Submitting My Manuscript to My Publisher! Resources & Boo Boo’s

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Greetings, my friends!

Yes, I’m thrilled to announce I’m finally delivering my baby to my publisher, but it’s not a human baby. For starters, I take lithium & a MAOI, so I’m done with all that. From now on if we want to add to this family, we’re going to the Santa Cruz SPCA!

I’m delivering the manuscript of my memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder to Post Hill Press on Saturday. Dr. Carol Henshaw agreed to write the foreword, and I’m truly honored. She’s one of the top perinatal psychiatrists in the world, a highly acclaimed author, and intrepid world traveler.

I began writing Birth of a New Brain nine years ago after my daughter was born. I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder, and it took forever to complete the book because of my treatment-resistant bipolar depression. If you want to know more about that saga, well, you can read my book next October 2017!

The past week has been a whirlwind of editing, writing, assembling last-minute photos, and completing the freaky metadata form. I also realized I made a ghastly mistake, which you’ll read about, I promise. First the good stuff:

The following links contain incredible resources that helped me. They might help you with your writing projects too. 

Filler Words Detract from the Power of Your Writing!

Rae Ford’s Write for Your Life blog post Ecstasy Editing Notes: 20 Filler Words and How to Get Rid of Them is soooooo worth checking out! (Rae, that “so” was for you, LOL!) 

In 2015 I printed Rae’s page, and put it in my “procrastination” file. On Monday I finally got out Rae’s pointers and combed through my 320 pg. manuscript. I cut as many of the filler words as I could. It was an exhausting process, but editing those suckers felt good! 

Grammarly Fun

Yesterday I splurged and bought Grammarly Premium for one month ($30),  and I have one word to describe it:

SUPERHELPFUL!

(That is a real word according to Miss Lucy. And if you refer someone to Grammarly, you can each get a free week’s trial period, but I was too lazy to do that.)

NY EDITORS

I discovered more awesome editing tools and the cool NY Editors website. Some goodies are free and some cost cha-ching! Visit “Instantly Improve Your Writing With These 11 Editing Tools” at this groovy NY Book Editors link.

My Quotation Nightmare – Don’t Make My Amateur Mistake!

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I did something SO foolish and SO lame, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but if you learn from my mistake it’s worth the shame!

A Bit ‘O Backstory:

I spent many hours searching for apt quotes I placed at the beginning of each of my 28 chapters, and one quote for the “front matter” area. I enjoyed searching for these quotes – it was a labor of love.

Some of the quotes were from songs, others were from books, poems, and newspaper articles. Yours truly didn’t get permission to use any of them.

Big mistake.

Moreover, I should have known better! Last month I contacted the American Psychiatric Association’s Permissions Department. I applied for their holy permission to cite two brief paragraphs. Guess what they wanted?

SIX HUNDRED BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP DOLLARS!

(I appealed, but I was told no. I got around that snafu by paraphrasing the information I wanted to quote.)

Yesterday when I reviewed the “need for permissions” clause in my publishing contract, this image came to mind:

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It was time to do a little research I should have done, um, last year. It turns out I need permission to quote anything published after 1923. Of course, any publisher/person/alien/whatever can charge a fee (i.e. songs are notorious for costing major bucks) unless that source allows a writer to quote without formal permission. (See this link for infoplus, there are tons of other sites with all kinds of information about this topic.)

Even one line of a song is a no-no, which sucks because I had song quotes from Dolly Parton (yes!), Crowded House, Split Enz, Toni Childs, Bic Runga, and Howard Jones – yes, 80’s music forever, people!

A JOLLY UPDATE:

This morning I figured I had nothing to lose by emailing an author asking if she could provide a quote with a similar message to what I read in her book. (Her remark was the most relevant, meaningful quote out of th etwenty-nine.)

I had the good fortune to locate her email address online, but I didn’t have high hopes. Well, she wrote me back within the hour and graciously gave me the perfect quote. I’m thrilled! Remember this is an option if all else fails.

Below are some of the quotes I tearfully deleted. I’m not afraid to post them here because I can always delete anything in WordPress in 20 seconds. 

I also registered at Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s publisher Penguin Random House * and I applied for permission to use her quote. It wasn’t that big a deal, and I’m glad I did it. I’ll know by eight weeks if it’s a yay or nay. I’m hoping they won’t ask for $600.00

* https://permissions.penguinrandomhouse.com/faq/

On hypergraphia:

My writing felt like a disease: I could not stop, and it sucked me away from family and friends. Sensations outside of language dried up: music became irritating discord, the visual world grew faint…While my hypergraphia felt like a disease, it also felt like one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It still does.

Dr. Alice W. Flaherty, The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block and the Creative Brain

On bibliotherapy:

A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe

Madeleine L’Engle

Electroconvulsive therapy/ECT:

I had been in a place where no drug could touch me. ECT was like a huge crane that pulled me out and let me back down on land. But I still had to walk the rest of the way.

Martha Manning, Undercurrents: A Therapist’s Reckoning With Her Own Depression

Benzodiazepine addiction:

To escape, you must make a conscious decision to break the fear-benzo-fear-benzo cycle.

Matt Samet, Death Grip: A Climber’s Escape from Benzo Madness (fab book!)

And it’s de rigueur to have something from the great Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison:

Suicidal depression involves a kind of pain and hopelessness that is impossible to describe — and I have tried. I teach in psychiatry and have written about my bipolar illness, but words struggle to do justice to it. How can you say what it feels like to go from being someone who loves life to wishing only to die? Suicidal depression is a state of cold, agitated horror and relentless despair.

Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind, in the New York Times Op-Ed piece “To Know Suicide”

I’m glad I figured out this mess three days before submitting the manuscript. Maybe I can still apply to the powers that be to use some of my favorite quotes. If I get permission, maybe the quotes can be added during the editing process. I’ll check with my editor and give you an update in a future post.

Lose It! Update

Awesome blogger Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear) and I continue struggling mightily with our healthy eating/exercise program (I have a knee injury and I’ve been overeating every night, a topic for another post…) but we aren’t giving up! No way! If you’d like to join us, sign up for free at www.loseit.com  and search for the Wondrous Writers group.

Halloween Is Coming – What Shall I Be, What Shall You Be?

Halloween is my favorite day of the year! My daughter Avonlea came up with my costume idea last night. She sure cheered me up after that quote fiasco.

I’m STOKED!
I’m going to dress up as….

MELINDA GORDON, THE MEDIUM in THE GHOST WHISPERER!

(This show is my current glorious, guilty pleasure – while my family watches Avatar and makes fun of me, I watch Melinda send everyone to the light! I mean, how can you go wrong with actors Jay Mohr, Camryn Manheim and David Conrad?)

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I already have the perfect vampire-ish dress; now I just need to get a ton of makeup (she wears pounds of it in every episode, plus fake eyelashes) and, um, maybe get ahold of some falsies, since (TMI Warning) because when I lost forty pounds, um, a lot of it came from up top. Oh well.

And on that lovely note…

Thanks for reading!

much love,

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.

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It’s World Insecure Writers Day!

Since there aren’t enough official “Days” and “Months” in the year, i.e.

World Bipolar Day and World Gourmet Donut Month,

I’ve decided to petition Congress for yet another day:

World Insecure Writers Day

Why not?

(Okay, okay, I’m kidding!)

Today’s post will be rather silly, superficial, and my personal favorite: whiny. (I hope you’ll enjoy reading it regardless of the content.)

A wise blogger once wrote, “Our blogs are the equivalent of our living rooms.” 

That quote resonates within me. 

Welcome to my living room – I vacuumed it just for you!

This is a time of year that breeds insecurity for me. While I love the fall, it’s also an unsettling reminder that I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar (bipolar, peripartum onset) in October, 2007. Even without my insecurity woes, I’d be waffling around in my soul.

In last week’s vlog I referred to a few incidents that were utterly ridiculous, but threw me for a loop. I promised to write about them this week, and true to my word, here goes:

First I was freaked out by an unpleasant, blog-related incident. Then I was unnerved by two writing-related schmuppywuppies. 

Schmuppywuppy means a weird coincidence that reminds one of yearned-for dreams that were never realized, touched with a soupcon of envy. It’s the dark, dreary side of wistful. It’s also a good name for a pet fish.

My Yucky Bloggy Bummer

After writing over 350 posts, I never had a single request from anyone to delete his/her name from a post. That changed last month. And the irony of the whole enchilada was that I only wrote glowing remarks about the person – damn, I’d love someone to write what I wrote about me. The way I saw it, I was giving the person’s services great P.R.

The reason for his request made no sense to me, or to Craig, or to the girls, or to Lucy or even to our new, erudite Asyrian hamster Copper. I’d write more, but since this person is local, I’ll leave it at that for now.

I realized the reason for this person’s request had to be STIGMA.

Yes, gruesome, bipolar-related stigma! (Don’t you think that could be a Halloween costume? STIGMA!)

My gut feeling was that this individual didn’t want anyone on the planet to think he had anything to do with a bipolar-related blog because — gasp — someone might think HE had bipolar too. (Perish the thought!)

As I mentioned, this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it threw me all the same. Apart from the stigma theory, I couldn’t imagine what else could cause him to feel that way unless this person thought I was a sh*tty writer and wanted no assocation with my blog. Was I being paranoid? Yes.

I’d love your thoughts on this one…don’t hold back. (Well, maybe hold back a little bit. I’m so sensitive…)

What Was In My High School Water Fountain Drinking Water?

At least two people in my high school class of ’87 became best-selling authors. One author is a junior high friend I lost touch with when we attended separate colleges. Her name is Aimee Bender. (I’ve briefly mentioned her here.)  

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Made into a feature film!

The other writer is Norman Ollestad; I only knew him in passing.

And this writer also attended my high school – you might have heard of her – but she was, and remains in a class all her own!

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So, a few days ago I received the latest e-letter from a publisher I admire named Counterpoint. I met the head of this publishing company last year at a writer’s conference. He was super-cool and even gave me useful advice. 

As usual, I scanned Counterpoint’s e-letter and I saw that they’re representing Norman’s second book. The newsletter editor went on and on about how fabulous a writer Norman is. (I’m sure he is brilliant, but I didn’t read his first book because I was too depresssed at the time.)

I’m happy for him because he has gone through hell, and he turned his agony into a bestseller.

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Suffice to say that when I saw Norman’s name in Counterpoint’s e-letter, and read accolade after accolade, I thought, Look at him, he’s the type of author you’ll never be: super-successful!!!

That thought came and went because even though I’m not going to get on the NYT list, I can make peace with that. It’s just all the other writing-related insecurities I have a problem with handling well.

The last thing that happened was kind of funny.  

There are a lot of writers in this area, but most of them aren’t professional and they do it as a hobby. There are many independently published local books with titles such as The Magic of CannabisJerry Garcia Is God, and How I Found Myself Dancing in the Pagan Rain

After my girls’ school started last week, I read all the introductory material from their teachers. One teacher’s welcome letter particularly interested me because she wrote her husband is an author whose newest book is coming out soon. I snarkily thought, I bet his book is called Banana Slugs and Me – A Love Story or something like that!

Of course I Googled the author’s name to discover that he had a big-time agent, a glitzy website, an exciting book tour, and, to top it off, his book is being published by one of my dream publishers.

This publisher is the one that famously took a big, controversial chance on publishing Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, who is one of my favorite authors. (The publisher is Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, now a division of MacMillan.)

After reading the author’s lengthy bio, I found out that some of his previous books were compared to my junior high classmate Aimee Bender. Small world, eh?

What can I learn from all this?

What might you learn from any of this?

It’s okay to be jealous, and it’s okay to be petty, but keep on moving. 

Keep on writing, or keep on doing whatever you enjoy, even when you get insecure about your ability. Move through those negative thoughts, distract yourself, do anything but linger in the great sinkhole of envy and insecurity because these thoughts can drain the spark out of us faster than when Lucy chases after a squirrel.

Take a lesson from Arrow’s song Groove Master from The Mighty Quinn soundtrack. Arrow reminds us to keep on moving! (If you haven’t seen The Mighty Quinn, you need to put it on your bucket list.) 

I know there has to be another lesson to learn from the recent events, but I have to pick up the kids at school. I’ll let you know if anything comes to mind next Friday. In the meantime, happy September!

XoXo

Keep on groovin’,

Dyane

Lose It! – We’re Losers and We Like It!!

My friend Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear and I are continuing to use Lose It!’s website. We encourage one another to reach our goals, especially now that it’s harder to eat well for a myriad of reasons. If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

 

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Wherever You Go, There You Are…

 

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Lucy & I chillin’ at Where We Met gelateria in Tahoma, California

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The girls got pomegranate, sweet cream and pink grapefruit gelati. Yum! Where We Met makes gelato daily using a base imported from Italy. It’s hard to believe this chocoholic mom gave birth to these two creatures, for they could’ve ordered milk chocolate! It pains me to write this, but they don’t like chocolate! (I try not to hold that against them.)

 

Tahoma, a town on the shores of Lake Tahoe, California, is beautiful.

While being surrounded by such beauty won’t erase my bipolar disorder and anxiety, it’s exhilarating to spend time in a place where I’m anonymous. I live in a small mountain community where I’ve burned many a friendship due to my bipolar disorder over the past decade.

Back home I’ve been profiled in the local paper a couple times about creating a DBSA chapter and leading free women’s bipolar support groups. My picture accompanied those articles, so I was “out”with bipolar. Don’t get me wrong – I wanted to be out; I thought it was important to personalize the mood disorder. However, I knew some people, mainly other moms, would steer clear of me as a result. I don’t regret what I did, but it was a bittersweet choice. 

Anyway, during our Tahoma walks with Lucy, the girls and I noticed that most of the people we’ve encountered are very friendly compared to where we live. It’s refreshing to observe my daughters experiencing this rather archaic behavior. 

I apologize for sounding like Debbie Downer, but don’t you think that waving or saying hello to strangers has become a lost art in many places? (Since my Mom reads this, I’d like to add that the girls are well aware about being careful around strangers thanks, in part, to this neurotic, Jewish-born mother!)

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When I stood up to move my purse, Lucy climbed up on my chair, plonking herself down as if she was a regular planning to order an americano. 

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I’ve been taking Lucy out for long walks every day by myself. I never know what to expect when we head out the door. After having my very own bear encounter a few years ago in Tahoe, I’m fairly bear savvy. (Mom, please…don’t worry – I’m forty-six.)

I love how walks can foster brainstorming. During yesterday’s walk I was inspired when we passed by the Golden Retriever house, my moniker for it. The homeowners had a large flag of two goldens waving above their front door, and no less than three large Golden Retriever posters displayed in their windows. What an awesome example of canine love.

When I walked past two handmade “Thanks for Driving 25” signs across the street from their home, it was obvious the Golden Retriever homeowners made them. 

I began thinking about doing exactly what they did. Why not? I’m sooooo tired of drivers racing past our home at 40-60 M.P.H. I’m already anxious, as some of you know, and these wanna-be Evel Knievels do nothing to help ease my anxety. 

We live on a steep, narrow mountain road situated ten feet past a blind curve. Whenever I leave our driveway, I pray I won’t get hit.

I know what you’re thinking: 

Why did you buy such a place, Dyane? 

Well, the short story is that it was cheap and I was dumb about realty…I mean ignorant!

We have a long wooden fence in front of our house that Craig built on our property. So, I’m going to make and post my own neon signs – maybe throw some eye-catching nude pictures on them. Any suggestions of models? (I’m kidding, Mom. Maybe.) If those signs help some folks slow down even a little bit, it’s completely worth the effort.

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I snapped this pic while exploring a mountain trail with Lucy – there have been no bear sightings yet! 😉

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Cabin Fever = when your girls turn into dogs and bark all afternoon!

Meanwhile my book deal with Post Hill Press looms ahead,causing many white nights. Luckily I’ve spent some afternoons in the cabin editing the MS. My husband, the published and acclaimed author Craig, has been helping me out by taking the girls to groovy state parks like Vikingsholm because I can’t write unless I’m alone with Lucy.

How I wish I could write anywhere just like Madeleine L’Engle, one of my favorite authors, was able to do. She wrote on trains, hotel lobbies, backstage when she acted on Broadway, you-name-it, but I simply can’t do it.

If you can write virtually anywhere without ear buds, consider yourself highly gifted!

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I’ll be up here a few more days, and I’ll share any adventure that comes my way in next week’s post.

In the meantime, I wish you a great week, as always!

Love,

Dyane

p.s. The Lose It! quest continues with my blog buddy Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear. We encourage one other through Lose It!’s website. Pairing up with him helped me not just attain my weight loss goal but with maintenance. I’ve lost almost 40 pounds, almost the equivalent of a Lucy, and my knee pain has improved. Thank you Bradley!

If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the Wondrous Writers group. We’d love to have you join us.

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Is My Book Worthy of Being Published & More Redux

ImageI wrote this post in January, 2014, which seems like a lifetime ago. It was before I received my all-time favorite birthday gift. 

I’ve been sick the past couple days with a nasty cold/cough…

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While I’ve been stuck in bed, I revisited some of my oldest blog posts. Is My Book Worthy of Being Published? & More caught my eye. I wanted to share a revised edition of the post, and I hope you enjoy it!

These days I’m focusing on writing blog posts rather than completing my memoir. Unfortunately when I write blog posts I feel like I’m “cheating” on my book, if that makes any sense! Oh well – I could have worse problems, right?

Apart from feeling like I’m a cheater, I go through fits and starts about whether or not I even have a story worth publishing. 

For those of you writing books, do you feel the same way?

On the one hand, I would’ve appreciated reading a book about my particular diagnosis. As of now, there’s no book I can find that specifically addresses postpartum bipolar disorder. If that continues to be the case, it’s a blessing in disguise, since I want my book to stand out in the sea of ubiquitous bipolar memoirs.

Oftentimes when a writer covers a particular unusual topic, another writer halfway across the world (or even down the street) is writing about the same specialized subject  This happened with my husband’s book about a West Coast aviation pioneer named John J. Montgomery, a contemporary of the Wright Brothers. In all honesty Craig’s book was far superior than the other book in terms of writing quality. 😉 Additionally, Craig is John J. Montgomery’s great, great nephew, and he had access to amazing primary sources that no one else had.

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Team Harwood prepping a case Craig’s books with protective plastic covers. The girls will sell them at his next book talk, a benefit for the Friends of the Library. Craig’s still in demand for presentations although his book was published in 2012! He has only had a few people fall asleep during his talks – one snored very loudly.

At this point, I’m in too deep to renounce finishing Birth of a New Brain, so I’m going to keep plugging away. 

UnknownOn a related note, I have a hobby that inspires me to not give up writing my book .  

When I wind down in the evening, I search my Kindle Fire’s Store using the keyword “bipolar”. Then I select the “Recently published” sort. I do a separate search and sort for “postpartum”. 

 

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KINDLE FIRE

 

I’ve noticed that more and more bipolar disorder and postpartum-related books are being published. (Note: This trend is much stronger now than it was in 2014!)  

I can tell at a glance that most of the bipolar-themed books I spot in the Kindle Store are unimpressive. Just from reading these books’ descriptions I notice the writing is inferior. To be blunt, these books (which are sometimes less than 40 pages long, yet sport titles such as All About Bipolar Disorder!) simply don’t contain many redeeming qualities!

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At 39 pages, I doubt this book is comprehensive. I sure as hell wouldn’t want Dr. Morrison for my doctor!

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Let me tell you all, quack, about, quack, quack, bipolar disorder!!!

Other books appear to be personal journals rather than books meticulously crafted for the public. (I know this because out of sheer curiosity I download free samples of those books; I love Kindle’s sample feature!)

Why do these observations motivate me to continue writing my book? Well, I might have just flamed the inferior quality of 90% of what gets published, but I do admire those writers for their chutzpah – for “just doing it”. If they can do it, why can’t I? 

Through my Kindle searches I also notice which publishers release mental health books, and then I dream of landing a publisher specializing in mental health issues such as New Harbinger (Update: they soundly rejected me) or Hay House.

When I feel down about taking forever to get my book done, I think of my husband Craig. His award-winning book Quest for Flight (University of Oklahoma Press) took seven years to write while he also worked full-time and was hit with my bipolar disorder illness, seven hospitalizations, and other crises. He wrote for fifteen minutes a day, usually before the rest of the family got up to distract him.

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I love the cover! 

 

I don’t want to take seven more years to finish Birth of a New Brain, but witnessing Craig’s slow, steady and successful path ha helped fire me up to continue writing my blog and return to working on my book soon.

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.

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Starting to Freak About the Catamaran Writing Conference

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Yes, I’m beginning to feel nervous about leaving my cozy comfort bubble to attend the 2015 Catamaran Writers Conference at Pebble Beach. I certainly won’t let my freakiness stop me from going to such an incredible-sounding event. But I’m definitely intimidated about hobnobbing with established writers, not to mention some famous ones. It’s not like I’m a writing neophyte. I have a book deal with Post Hill Press, but I’m not exactly Karen Joy Fowler (our keynote speaker and the winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction) either.

I’m daunted at the prospect of having my writing critiqued by a group, but that’s the primary reason I’m attending. I want a fresh perspective about my book Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder; specifically I want feedback about Chapter One, the material I submitted for our class to review. An acclaimed memoirist/memoir instructor, Frances Lefkowitz, will discuss her take on my chapter and I’ll gain insights from my classmates as well. 

The last time I was away from my family for more than a day was in 2013. That summer I was hospitalized three times after I slowly, slowly tapered off lithium and relapsed into bipolar depression/suicidal ideation. I admitted myself into Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, a.k.a. CHOMP. (I’ve always found that to be a bizarre acronym; CHOMP reminds me of a vicious shark – no offense to shark lovers!)  While there I requested bilateral ECT (electroshock treatment/electroconvulsive therapy) which brought me up to a functioning level. I have no regrets about ECT and consider it a lifesaver. However, my bipolar depression didn’t go away until I began taking lithium and my MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) Parnate that fall. 

Ironically CHOMP is located very close to the Catamaran Writers Conference site, but I’m determined not to darken its doors unless I suffer from severe writer’s cramp or the like. My meds are doing their job, thank God, and I’m still working out almost every day “Alsuwaidan Style“.  

I think that sometimes after we suffer so much trauma, it’s hard to fully accept the “happy stuff” that comes our way. A part of me feels that this conference is too good to be true. Moreover, thoughts of “I’m not worthy! My writing sucks and it’s not worthy either!” have floated through my mind.

I’ll do my best to let my negative perceptions pass through my brain, and focus on breathing in the fresh ocean air that permeates the campus. My past anxiety crutches of booze and benzos are no longer an option. As hippy dippy as this may sound, I’m going to turn to nature and sweat to help me grapple with my assorted heebie jeebies. There’s a gym I will use on campus, and there are group hiking activities and other outdoor field trips (i.e. to gorgeous Tor House, home of Robinson Jeffers, a John Steinbeck tour, and exploring sites that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson, i.e. China Cove and Pelican Point ) for the writers.

I can also blog about my angst to you, right? I’ll have my laptop  and WiFi by my side, and I’ll let you know how it all pans out.  🙂

XoXo,

Dyane

p.s. It’s not too late to join me! August 1st is the registration deadline. Sign up at 

http://catamaranliteraryreader.com/conference-2015/

 

Here are a few hideous campus shots! 😉

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And the atrocious area of Pebble Beach & China Cove!

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Writing Envy Redux & My Dog Lucy Is Writing A Book!

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My hound Lucy looks twice as focused as this dog when she spots a fly!

 

 

I’ve written before about my writing envy

And while I’d love to rhapsodize how much brilliant writing inspires me to better my craftor exclaim how thrilled I was when my friend’s debut novel hit the New York Times Best Seller list, I won’t. 

I’ve been reading such incredible books and blogs lately. When I looked at my Seroquel belly this morning, it was a rippling, verdant hue. 🙂 

During the years I was mired in bipolar depression, I couldn’t care less about others’ writing because I no longer felt human. I abandoned the freelance writing relationships I had nurtured, but what hurt the most was that my writing identity vanished.

When I had the great fortune to find a psychiatrist who suggested an “out-of-thebox” medication, my depression lifted. In late 2013 I resumed writing and began blogging. And I remembered someone I used to be friends with in junior high named Aimee Bender.  

We weren’t very close, but we shared a mutual love for books. On a whim, I sent a photograph of us to my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle. A couple months later, L’Engle mailed me a postcard with a picture of the Milky Way. (A fitting image to represent the author of A Wrinkle In Time.) L’Engle wrote few lines thanking me, and added, “I always enjoy seeing what my readers look like.” I treasure her postcard and keep it near my laptop.

Toward the end of junior high, Aimee and I lost touch. Thank God no drama was involved in our parting – we simply went our separate ways and I wished her well. 

In 2011 Aimee’s book The Girl in the Flammable Skirt was published, and it received rave reviews along with the Los Angeles Times best seller status. I bought it and while I found the book unique, it didn’t wasn’t my taste. I was envious of Aimee’s success, but it was a fleeting feeling. 

Recently I checked the internet to find out about Aimee’s most recent book. Her writing career is nothing short of amazing: a prolific output of books, heaps of awards, a book made into a film, a cult following, fancy teaching positions, healthy twins at age 43, a relatively good-sounding marriage, etc. The one thing she didn’t seem to have was a severe mental illness.  That’s the day I knew it was time to stop following her accomplishments! 

My literary envy is often triggered when I can’t put down a compelling book that’s so beautifully written it makes me wish I had written it. I finished such a memoir last night. As with any intense, engaging book I immerse myself in, I was sad to reach the last page. 

To Have Not is about the author’s life growing up poor in San Francisco. It was written by my upcoming Catamaran Writing Conference instructor Frances Lefkowtiz. To Have Not is an unforgettable, lyrically written memoir.

You could say that I’m a wee bit envious of the gifted Lefkowtiz. 

Gulp.

Despite the intimidation I’ll feel in the presence of this accomplished writer, I’d rather have a fantastic nonfiction instructor than a mediocre one.  More than anything, I’m incredibly grateful that I won the fellowship award to attend her class.

What helps me grapple with my nasty emerald bits is reading insightful posts by those who expose their writing jealousy. Today I found a refreshingly honest post about this very topic! Acclaimed author Robin Black reveals the not-so-nice parts of herself after her writer friends hit the literary lotto. Interestingly, Black discusses how bestselling authors possess cases of the envies just like the neophytes do. She includes original advice on how to handle waves of envy, and trust me, her post is definitely worth the read.

Happily, I didn’t get consumed with jealousy over Robin Black’s talent. Well, I wouldn’t mind having one or two of the achievements listed on her bio; they’re nothing major, really…I mean, being published in small rags like the New York Times Magazine and receiving several major grants is not that big a deal.  

http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/green-eyed-writer-literary-envy

On a separate note, you might be wondering about my collie Lucy’s blossoming writing career. Well, being a goofball, I thought I’d touch upon another phenomenon that freaks me out: the fact that almost everyone I encounter is writing a book, even my beloved beast.

With her two furry paws bursting with creativity, Miss Lucy has already amassed 80,000 words about her life. 

il_570xN.478172114_2z82

 

With the enormous amount of books being published annually, sometimes I wonder what’s the point of adding my book to the mix. Will Birth of a New Brain truly help anyone or is it primarily a quest to massage my ego? 

Although I believe these are totally normal thoughts, I must kick them to the curb.

I can reflect upon this gem of a mood booster: 

If books such as Reusing Old Graves, Why Cats Paint, Mommy Drinks Because You’re Bad (Arch Books – Quality Religious Books for Children), Make Your Own Sex Toys, The Bitch Who Forgot Birthdays, and the page turner Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns can be published, then my book has a place in our world!

I remind myself that my book will be a worthwhile read. I’m writing for a niche market, with absolutely no aspirations of having it become a bestseller. Madeleine L’Engle said, “You must write the book that wants to be written…” and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

So what if there are trillions of books out in the world?

It’s okay.

So what if  countless writers possess such off-the-hook talent that I feel odious by comparison?

It’s okay.

It’s not easy being green, but at least I’m not alone…

* Lithium and tranylcypromine/Parnate (an MAOI, which stands for monoamine oxidase inhibitor)

 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (author of  Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016. 

My Seroquel Spider Belly, Memoirstipation & Buh-Bye!

(TW – Seemingly superficial topics but please read this anyway!)

Happy Thursday, my friends!

It has been over a month since my last 25 mg Seroquel pill. I’ve been able to get to sleep without medication again, which is cause for celebration! I first started taking quetiapine, the generic version of Seroquel, in 2013 for for severe, agitated insomnia. It has been an enormous help, but it was time to taper off it because I wasn’t happy with my chronic daytime grogginess. I wanted to see if I could live and sleep comfortably without the med, and my pdoc gave me his blessing to go for it.

I think I’m getting the medication out of my system. Who knows for sure, but I don’t feel an icky withdrawal sensation anymore. I stopped belting out the Seroquel Blues song. The only Seroquel-related bummer that remains is this:
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Ever since I started taking Seroquel, my stomach took on a very high concentration of fat glorious adipose tissue. I’ve never had this style of weight gain happen before except when I was pregnant. There’s no way I’m growing a Frankenbaby, but I look about four months pregnant and that feels very disconcerting.

I’ve been ruminating about the villain Typhon Cutter from my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle’s book The Arm of the Starfish. L’Engle writes, “Typhon Cutter looked even more like a spider than Adam remembered. It seemed incredible that this obese mass with the stringy appendages could possibly be father to the beautiful girl at his side.”

While I’m not obese (at 5’6″, I’m 152 pounds of pure bipolar goodness) my metabolism has obviously been affected adversely by the powerful drug. 152 pounds would be perfectly acceptable except for this quadruple muffin top hanging out of my stretched-out jeans. Due to my twisted Los Angeles upbringing, I don’t breathe well because I have an awful habit of sucking in my stomach. 

The bottom line is that I feel gross and unhealthy despite my consistent Dr. Alsuwaidan-style * workouts. I’m a former A.C.E.-certified personal trainer and I know the most important thing I need to do aside from discuss this in therapy. I need to eat much healthier foods than what I’m currently inhaling. However, I haven’t hit that lovely rock-bottom point that motivates profound, lasting change.

My weight gain certainly hasn’t been all Seroquel’s fault. I have a fierce gelato addiction. There are so many damn delicious gelatos and a myriad of Willy Wonka-esque, enticing flavors available. (Bourbon caramel chocolate, anyone?Ahhh!) Check out https://ciaobellagelato.com)

bourboncaramelchocolate

It’s just not right. But I’m working on this issue because I want more energy.

I’ve lost bipolar med weight before. I did it in a healthy way, mind you! No starving for this foodie chick. 60 pounds worth! The equivalent of a five-year-old child was lost from my frame, which is pretty freaky. But my weight problem wasn’t connected with Seroquel and I think the 10-15 pounds I’d like to lose now will be tougher due to whatever Seroquel did to my metabolism. So we shall see, and I’ll keep you posted.

In book writing news, it’s sucking heavily, my dears.  My publisher doesn’t read this blog, and even if someone there did read it, I’m not worried. At least I have my book’s 200 page “skeleton” written. (Thanks, Natalie Goldberg, for planting your Writing Down the Bones idea into my brain twenty nine years ago!) However, a humongous amount of work is still in order. 

Due to our family’s summer schedule and my malaise, I haven’t written much. I’ve been constipated in terms of writing. I’ve coined the silly term “memoirstipation” because as far as I know, no one else has coined it, so I’m claiming it now. Gotta clear out the pipes! At least my manuscript deadline is motivating me to complete this project. The main reason why I sent out the proposal was actually to be given a deadline and pressure! It’s a mixed blessing, especially when I wake up at 4:00 a.m. freaking out about it.

I have the Catamaran Writers Conference coming up in August as another way that will require me to get my act together. The feedback will be invaluable – I know that I’m going to get 99.9% criticism and that’s okay. I’ll bring a extra-large box of tissues. 😉

Perhaps as I lose a bit of the Seroquel belly, I’ll feel more fired up to write. 

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This is not end-of-the-world stuff, and yes, it’s a first-world problem, but nevertheless I’d like to say buh-bye to my Seroquel belly!

And speaking of buh-bye’s, I found a clip on YouTube that made me laugh. You might not think it’s as hilarious as I do since I was raised in L.A., but it’s fun to watch such an awkward spectacle. Stay with it for the Betty White/Bradley Cooper moment if nothing else. Keep in mind lots of Angelenos like to explain in boring, ludicrous detail the tedious routes they drive. Here’s a summary:

The Californians (Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Laraine Newman, Kenan Thompson, Betty White, Taylor Swift) reunite and get some surprising news about their pool boy Craig (Bradley Cooper – I’m not quite sure what he was on in this skit). Plus, David Spade (reprising his role as the original Buh-Bye Man) and Cecily Strong bring the sketch to an abrupt end.

THE CALIFORNIANS – SNL 40th SPECIAL “BUH-BYE”

I grew up in West L.A., and this is how people really talk there…and it’s true, lots of them primp in the mirror every two minutes. See you next week, lovies!

Dyane

* This is what I do every day & it totally helps my mood, no matter how chunky my belly is! 

http://kuwaitmood.com/exercise-mood-part-iii-from-science-to-action/