What Illness Does to a Writer

Quick comment: my laptop is very outdated and it can no longer update (we’re talking over 8 years old here). With that, I can’t fully access my wordpress on this thing anymore, so I can’t do anything with comments, sorry.

This may be a series of posts, simply because there’s a lot to say about such a topic. I may not do them much though since, obviously, illness effects my ability to write.

I’ve seen how illness effects a person’s ability to live a normal life. My in-home care clients wouldn’t need me if that weren’t the case. I may not need someone to do in-home care with me (at least not yet), but it still effects my ability to do much. For me though, the most devistating part is how much it takes away from my ability to write and draw.

I’m still able to do it, but not as well or as often as I used to.

Losing my ability to do this allows my depression to grow worse, feeling down and upset with myself for not being abl to accomplish what I want to or what I used to be able to do.
There are times when writing feels like a chore–my energy is drained, if there’s anything to even drain, and I have all the pain, nausea, dizziness, and other strange feelings distracting me on the side. Something that’s supposed to be fun or relaxing, even invigorating, becomes difficult with everything else in the background. I try to push through it, but there’s only so much I can push through.

Comparing how much I used to be able to write compared to now can feel depressing, sometimes inexcusable despite spending many hours sick when I’m not at work or trying to get things done.
I keep telling myself I can do it again, that I can be like that again, maybe even better, but part of it is trying to accept that that’s a time in the future, not right now.

It’s hard to think in the cloud of dizziness. Depression and anxiety with my living situation isn’t helping either, but that doesn’t slow me down as much. I’m forgetting and scrambling up words and I’m becoming more aware of this. People point it out to me too and sometimes have to help me.
Some doctors think it’s just stress, some say it’s a sign of my illnesses getting worse. Whatever the cause, it’s frustrating to be someone who struggles with something they’re supposed to specialize with.

There’s less than a week to finish three art pieces and write one more short story for the 2015 release of Progenitor.
At this point in time, I don’t care about getting in as much as I do getting at least one of each in. I want to get all three art pieces in, but at this point, that may be too big of a goal for me anymore.
I’ve been trying to push myself, but it’s been one distraction after another with everything getting worse.
I want to do it so I can take pride in myself for accomplishing that much. It’d be an achievement for me to at least get something out of me through this fog and weakness. It’s the same sense of accomplishment as taking your first shower or some other independent act since a surgery.

It did inspire the idea I needed for the short story and the art piece.I have just enough in me to write the short story. I don’t know about the art yet, but I’ve been drawing bits and pieces here and there when I’m able to. I do worry I won’t have it in me to finish it in time, but I am glad I got it about 75% of the way there.

It is such a relief to finally find that spark in me again. I almost want to cry from joy, but then I won’t be able to see to write it haha.

Whatever doesn’t get into the magazine, I’ll try and post. I dont’ know where I’ll be living at that time, but I’d just need internet long enough to post them.
I’m making progress in a permanent living situation, but it’s a matter of enduring until all the puzzle pieces fall into place and that there aren’t too many distractions. That’s a post for another day though.

I’m thinking a lot of this is the lupron shot they have me on, but it’s my last option and it’s not working. The doctors theorize that I’ve been weakened by this to where I’m too weak and at risk of damage to be operated on again. My only options were pregnancy and the shot, but I don’t want a child for 1001 reasons and I cant guarantee I’ll concieve if I try.
I do plan on looking for other doctors to confirm the whole too weak for surgery thing too.
It’s just their observation. How do they know my organs are too weak to endure surgery without tests and just by looking at me? Can they put an ICD-9 or an ICD-10 code to what is causing the weakness?

Until they can, I’m not giving up.

Since I’m having some symptoms in the “rare but serious” list of side effects, I may have to go to urgent care later today and that’s why I wanted to try getting this post out.
I want to write as much as I can of this story as I can until it’s time to decide. Whether I end up going or not doesn’t really matter, I just want to do this much.

I finally understand how my grandmother felt when I took care of her and why she did the things she did, and that’s where my inspiration for this story came from…


Writer’s Awareness; Can Length Count in Style?

What defines a writer’s style?
Personally, I think it’s as unique as a fingerprint because it takes every single aspect and element of writing to create a style–it can vary from details as tiny as the different words for similar things such as soda versus pop (if that sounds like a familiar reference, I applaud you, though I wasn’t trying to be clever or punny referencing one of my favorite characters on modern television) to as large as the genres they work with.

Length is a large part of genre. In several instances, it’s a key indication of a certain genre–a general fiction novel can average about 80,000 words while a scifi or fantasy novel needs to be at 90,000 or so at a bare minimum to be a piece of that particular genre. Why? It doesn’t take many words to describe what a regular old notebook is. It takes even more to describe the technology and logic behind a holographic book or an enchanted scroll that can translates languages depending on the origin of the ink.

As I work on the Diary of Eloise Vacarro, not only do I feel like I’m struggling with the format, but I also believe I’m struggling with the length.

A short story ranges between 1,000 and 40,000 words long. I’m almost at a quarter of the maximum before it’s a novella. What’s my problem? I want the length to be reasonable for a 99-cent short story, yet I need it to feel complete. Why is this a problem? What I thought was a short story is actually more complex than I had originally thought.

As a piece is a living entity of its own like a child is to a parent, it seems like all the pieces will be novellas at the least and I want to at least have a few short stories. However, that may not be the case.

If that’s how it is, then that’s how it is. However, I still want to try and create short pieces related to the larger body of work to the best of my abilities. I want to try; also like a child, I cannot force what isn’t possible. If I can’t, then I can’t.

However, this is a big issue for me because I wonder if this goes beyond this particular universe, that it’s just not in me to write short stories at all.

Why is that an issue?

I want to write short stories too! I want variety!

I’m aware of how I write poetry; the ability comes in random bursts that must be acted upon or else it’s gone forever. Almost every poem was written at the spur of the moment and then left to be with minor editing for typos while others were edited several times. Those were closer to being commissions, but the motivation to be written for another to that extend may not count if they chose over half the words (no offense to my old professor, but that really dehydrates a piece from the original writer’s touch and makes it theirs, and at that point, it’s not as great of a piece and was technically just typed by a representative…).

I have several ideas for different short stories not related to the universe of my other piece, but I have my fair share of struggles with that too. The Diary of Eloise Vacarro just happens to be the one I’m stuck obsessing over the most right now because I’m struggling with it the least–a lot of the world was already built, even if it wasn’t written down yet.

I’ll try and get started on several idea, possibly just turning my brain off and letting my fingers play on the keyboard.

Keep an eye out for updates.

Happily Employed

I finally got a great job about 3 weeks ago. I just got a bit more settled into it.

I won’t lie, it’s a kind of weird feeling–it’s a desk job for a doctor. I’m training to be the anti-hero in it all since I will eventually get to bill insurance companies on my own. However, the weird part is just that this is my first non-contract job, so I can probably make this a career once I get the hang of things. Having this opportunity is something I’m not used to. I’m used to worrying about the contract’s ending date and making a lasting impression if I survive to that term (even though I always do).

It’s making me re-evaluate my technical writing degree choices.

Sure, I don’t have to stay where I am. It might be best since there’s a good chance this’ll pay more than teaching. I’m going to earn enough to support myself (considering how the most I’d need beyond the usual rent/utilities is phone, internet and bus passes, that doesn’t say much).

However, I may not have as much time for school, especially if it’s not in any kind of medical field.

I don’t hav the free time to draw and write and paint like I used to, but that’s also a matter of getting that settled into a routine too. It’s all just a strange feeling to think I found a job I would be able to do for the rest of my working life before I turn 23.

Working here has a great benefit too; I know how doctor appointments work behind the scenes and I’m finding out more about how my cystectomy went wrong, but it’s telling me how I can fight my case when I choose to get a lawyer. Working with one of te top vascular surgeons gets me connected to great physicians and the ethos I’d need when handling my own problems.

I’m nervous about getting that taken care of too.

I’m now able to fix almost two years worth of neglect due to being uninsured and fixing what went wrong last time.

I do hope to find the free time to at least make small things to sell on Etsy or something. When I do, I’ll share the news. Painting a piece takes less time than writing a novel after all (although with Denise’s family moving in soon, it’s going to be tricky finding sit-down time and getting used to the change in atmosphere).

If there’s anything I can advise or share, doctor offices are great places to start an office job, even if you aren’t trained in the medical field. Believe it or not, a lot of them are hiring. I know where to refer friends who are looking and that’s just as reassuring as having the job itself.

Happiness Like an Acme Anvil and Technical Writing

I can’t point out exactly when it started.

Maybe it started when my grandmother quit smoking for my tenth birthday or the pneumonia her nicotine addiction lead to.
Maybe it was the discovery of her aneurism and the stress that drove me to attempt suicide.
Maybe it was that failed attempt that landed me in foster care.
Whenever the greatest challenges and duration in hell started, I now know that was temporary.

Last time, I was couch surfing. I had “come to realize the personal law of my life’s track”, that my current situation would be the best it will ever be and to enjoy what will be the peace in comparison to my future.

My godmother spoke with her hairdresser and found me a permanent home.

It reminded me then, and still does, of the flash fiction Pockets form the literary magazine I helped with. It was all about how the seemingly unimportant job of a dry cleaner influences the lives of all of her clients, brightening them to near impossible quality that no one else could achieve.

The woman she introduced me to suffered depression. Her puppy brought her an average of three smiles and laughs a day, but it wasn’t enough to help her care for herself with all the limits that come from having a leg amputated. The experience everyone called “child abuse and neglect” was now seen as “work experience”, connecting me to a kind woman who needed a friend just as much as she needed a care taker.

I have never met someone who encouraged my artistic side this much! Before, I wouldn’t have been able to do enough with my diorama for my art appreciation final. Thanks to her acceptance, I did the impossible; my extra creativity got me enough extra credit points to get an A instead of the B she said was the highest letter grade possible.

I may not have gotten the grades in time to keep my job with the computer lab, but it’s opened up considerations that may lead to opportunities.

After helping a friend’s ex with his technical writing final, I was able to test my suggested talent in technical writing, only to find out that the talent other people saw was indeed there. There is still art and creativity in technical writing just as there is logic in art.

To my surprise, he liked my diorama enough to keep it (I didn’t want to keep it, so I didn’t fully care what happened to it). The creativity that got the points was a hand-painted fish on the top. It was my first time painting anything in about five years, and even then I just learned the basics of mixing paint and the color wheel.

His social and talkative nature took over from there when he showed it off to others.
I now have a few commissions for koi thank you cards amongst other pieces.

As for writing and literary art, I’m going to switch my degree to technical writing and transfer to a university and leave my community college. The sudden increase of ease and happiness with a permanent home that allows creativity and is okay with temporary unemployment (even better, Denise is patient about this) allows me to progress. I no longer need to struggle to stay stable, I can now work hard and move forward.

koi for blog

This is the best quality picture I have at the moment, sorry. I’ll share any commission or art selling information if/when available.

In Memory of the Angel in the Flour Sack Dress

My grandmother’s birthday is today.
I don’t know if she would have been 79 or 84 though—the year she gave me was 1935, but I knew she took off 5 years from her birth certificate several years before I was even born. I don’t know if ’35 is the actual year or the new year she had on her birth certificate. Anyone who would have known has passed away too.

Every year on her birthday and the anniversary of her death, I create something in memory of her. In my childhood, she was literally the only one who not only allowed but encouraged my creative side, believing she had no right to take away a part of who I really was when the world was already trying and going to. My creative side resided in drawing and writing, advancing into creative writing. Had she discouraged it, I probably wouldn’t have done well enough in English while in foster care to have survived. With that, I view my success as her doing. I not only have to thank her for that, but for raising me from infancy to fifteen years of age. Even if people didn’t like her and didn’t want me to mourn over her death, I vow to be the person to always respect her as a human when no one else will.

This time around, there will be multiple pieces created and things done in her honor. I intend to take the next step towards creating pieces I had in mind. I originally wanted to just create a 9X12 graphite and colored pencil drawing, but she would have wanted me to branch out to keep my creative side alive, so for her, I’ll try creating a painting of it too.

I have written poetry and allowed myself to write difficult things in dedication to her. I may do the same, but I still want to create visual work too.

They will be late, mostly due to any submission windows not being open for a while and thus wanting to prepare for the window that opens around December. However, she was never one for receiving presents, or much kindness for that matter. I suppose I’m disrespecting her wishes by making things in honor to her, but she wouldn’t expect anything else from me.

Horror Games in RPG Maker—Great Writing Practice

An old professor of mine heavily insisted that video games weren’t art. He insisted there was no thought into the plot and that it was just mindless trash. I have brought up the concept that it should be counted as media in his Introduction to Media class—everyone agreed, but he couldn’t understand how it had any influence in society or culture beyond “encouraging laziness or violence”. Numerous students brought in researched evidence and stood for it every single time.

I’m going to stand up for it again, right here. Contrary to that opinion, it is actually one of the most difficult writing challenges I’ve been presented with.

Here’s why
There are two types of ending to novels; open and closed endings. Open endings don’t answer all the questions and leave you in suspense for what’s going to happen next. What will happen next can continue in the next book in a series, or it’ll end right there. Closed endings are intended to answer as many as possible and close the story off with a satisfying “the end” with no implication that it will continue.

Many games, especially RPG horror games, are similar to the open-ended to the point of being fractured. However, this is why it’s complicated: the plot is fractured because it’s in a bunch of puzzle pieces. A novels’ open end is a near-complete puzzle with one or two gone, but the right pieces are missing so you’re not missing anything important. If it’s a puzzle of a sailboat, you’ll have enough to know that’s what it is. A game’s plot puzzle is a collection of pieces from different puzzles, but they’re all shaped to mix and match to complete yourself. You have to decide which ones to take and which ones to leave behind. Sometimes, you don’t know what you’re going to make at the end and sometimes you have a custom puzzle in mind from the first piece.

The person or people coming up with the content of the plot needs to make all those different pieces and shape them in ways that’ll allow them all to fit in whichever way the player wants. It’s a bunch of stories rolled into one to make one and that’s why it’s such a challenge. That’s why I want to try making one, even if the player can only end up with two endings.

Plots in novels are linear. Plots for open-ended games are shaped like a family tree that may or may not have incest. However, the explanation of the plot is something that can be a post of its own. The interactive aspect that some books may not have (except for the choose-your-own-adventure books, which is sort of the same thing, but the level in between writing the plot of a novel and the plot of a video game with dozens of possible endings).

In the meantime, I’ll be over here brainstorming. When I get an idea, I’ll put up the family tree-shaped plot for demonstration and note some extra points to cover.

If anything, it’s perfect practice for exploring different routes for character development, behavior, plot twists and deciding on your novel’s end. Once I get something going, you’ll see and read how that works.

1k Every December Day Challenge

make up for missing out on NaNoWriMo,
increase written material to work with in future classes or contests,
practice touchscreen keyboards,
get used to my new tablet and advancing technology I have stayed behind on until now,
warm up for my new year’s resolution,
improve my abilities to draw inspiration and ideas from everyday around me,
relieve stress,
build better wtriting habits in the chaos of work and school,
branch out beyond novel-length projects,
become more comfortable with different genres
master literary elements of story-telling and message delivery,
I plan to write a bare minimum of 1,000 words a day in dedication to a story or poem.

I may need to do multiple poems or smaller flash fiction, but it would need to be 1,000 words every single day.
Today is the second, but I’m not behind. I already wrote my 1,000 yesterday and plan to do so again before midnight. However, last night was focused on my novel-length projects, which I do not intend to do for the rest of December, but it is a branch off for the rest of the month. Any work I will do for those will have to be separate and not count from today until 2014.

I also plan on sharing these. they may be eventually taken down, but left available for a brief period of time (they may go towards future classes or a short story clolection to sell, depending on which ones I think are worthy of such a thing).

Look forward to a spam of flash fictions, multiple poems and short stories.