Wake-Up Calls from the Universe

 

 

During the past week, I had an epiphany courtesy of my inner universe.

The inner universe is the area comprised of mysterious brain synapses and who knows what else…

Maybe subatomic bits of chocolate?

I can’t type “inner universe” without thinking of Crowded House’s hypnotic song Private Universe. 

Ever since the creation of my ARC, I’ve been obsessed with attaining book endorsements. I’ve contacted bestselling writers, experts in the bipolar and perinatal mental health fields, and celebrities.

When the rejections started coming in, they weren’t fun, as you can imagine. Some of my emails were ignored. (I’d rather get a rejection than no response at all!) But I knew from the get-go that rejections would be part of the process. 

I received five blurbs (you can see them here under Editorial Reviews) and more are on the way. 

How many blurbs does an author really need?

Well, there are publishing pros who believe a writer only needs a few blurbs. Other marketers such as Sarah Bolme suggest getting twenty to thirty! I encourage you to read her brief post about her rationale. Although Sarah’s specialty is Christian books, her perspective applies to all genres.

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I thought this book cover endorsement was witty. The image is blurry, so look closely & if you can’t read Julie’s quote, I copied it at the end of this post.

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Since March, I’d often think of an awesome celebrity I wanted to ask for a blurb. 

Stephen Fry!   Jessie Close!   Adele!   Sia!

 

Yet I already had more than enough blurbs. Last week I realized I knew what I truly wanted, and it wasn’t fifty glowing endorsements of my book. 

What I yearned for was a Mount Everest-sized amount of validation that I was worthwhile.

I thought that if extraordinary people approved of Birth of a New Brain, I’d have irrefutable proof that I was worthy as well. 

Stigma and all.

It was time to smash my longtime habit of seeking approval from others and look inward.

As Stuart Smalley would say….

 

As I looked inward, it wasn’t pretty. I noticed my shame of having a mental illness, feeling like I’m a mediocre writer, struggling with body image issues, and knowing I sometimes fail as the mother, wife, and friend I want to be. 

I spoke about all of that with my therapist this morning. She helped me reframe how I saw myself and my life. It wasn’t her first time doing that and it won’t be her last, but I’m determined to chip away at the shame and insecurity that have plagued me for a long time.

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My Scottish collie Lucy serves as an inspiring role model even though she is of the canine persuasion. She possesses a healthy amount of self-esteem.

Just like Stuart Smalley, Lucy’s good enough! She’s smart enough! And gosh darn it, people like her! 

(Cats aren’t exactly thrilled with her, but hey – you can’t have everything!)

Here’s my furry girl after her bath. She pulls off her spiky Cher hairstyle with aplomb! 

On a completely separate note, I want to share a very cool, free resource with you. I can’t remember how I found out about it, but I’m glad I did. 

It’s called Net Galley and you can participate in it as a blogger. Here’s their nutshell description:

Why Register for NetGalley?

We’re looking for readers of influence who help to build buzz about new books. As a member, you will be able to request or be invited to read new books, primarily before they are published. In the book trade, these are called “galleys” (hence our name!).

You will be able to read galleys digitally, on all major reading devices and platforms, and provide reviews, recommendations, and nominations for industry lists, right from your account.

We’re delighted to be in the business of helping “professional readers” evaluate new titles. Anyone who reads and recommends books can use NetGalley for free. Welcome!

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To register visit this link

I suggest you read this page before you create your blogger profile so publishers will like it and grant your book requests! I’ll start reading an advance copy of Jen Waite’ s A Beautiful, Terrible Thing this weekend.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Oh yes. There’s one more thing.

Have you had any epiphanies lately?  I’d like to know about one if you’re up for it! 

Lots of love & see you next week,

Dyane

 

When I did a Google search for “beautiful images of the universe” this picture came up.

 “The Real Miss Universe”

 

Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Dr. Henshaw is the co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders, 2nd Edition published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in March 2017. 

 

Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!

 

  • “Pure genius. Brilliant. A literary masterpiece”
  • Julie Kraft (the author of the book! 😉 
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Two Concussions in One Day

Yesterday was weird.

Let me back up.

I live up in the Santa Cruz Mountains where the wild banana slugs roam, and every day is a little bit weird.

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But yesterday was weirder than usual.

After taking the kids to school (and only having one road rage-ish tizzy fit -a personal best!), I returned home to read the latest post by my friend Samina Raza of the award-winning Bipolar1Blog. 

Samina wrote about her first time ice skating. Her post was accompanied by a pictorial, which started out showing happy, beautiful scenes of Samina on the ice, and a video, but then it turned into something very different.  

Interestingly enough, Samina’s adventure wasn’t all gloom ‘n doom. While she took a spill and suffered a concussion, something else happened that day that was good – you need to read her post “went Ice Skating” to believe it!

I never would’ve guessed what happened to Samina in a zillion years. I want what she got, but I wouldn’t want to do what she did to get it!

(Say that 10 times fast!)

 

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A couple hours later I waited at the elementary school to pick up my girls. Craig called me to let me know that a good friend of ours had fallen that morning. He cracked some bones in his neck and was at the hospital; those were the only details Craig knew so far.

The news of my friends’ concussions gave me pause. 

Sabina mentioned that she wasn’t wearing a helmet, but promised she’d  definitely put one on the next time she goes to the rink. I’m so proud of her wanting to go skating again!

My other friend got his concussion from simply skipping a step on the staircase – we all do that sometimes, don’t we? His accident could happen to any of us.

These two incidents tie into my last post Always Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop. For much of yesterday, I felt like a Payless Shoesource store could drop on me, but today the paranoid feeling is subsidingI’m slowing down a bit, driving extra-carefully, and de-hunching whenever I catch myself with my shoulders almost hitting my ears. Oh, and I’m trying my damndest not to hold my breath, a nasty, longtime habit of mine…

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My eight-year-old has third grade “mental math” homework in which she has to figure out the problems in her little noggin. Instead of mental math I’ve begun to do a little bit of “mental gratitude” list in my head. Yes, I’m lazy. I was always too lazy to do a gratitude list – don’t tell Oprah! But thinking about it certainly counts. 

Yesterday served as a wake-up call to appreciate what I have right now.

I can’t end this post without making a reference to one of my all-time favorite bands Crowded House. Their hit song Four Seasons in One Day contains lyrics that beautifully express how we never know what will happen, even in this age of psychic superstars and satellite weather systems.

Below is a link to a gorgeous video of Four Seasons in One Day. This was the first Crowded House video to be made in New Zealand. Auckland director Kerry Brown and film producer Bruce Sheridan wanted to emphasise the surreal, fantasy elements of the song, using distinctly NZ imagery. Locations included beaches and dense bush of the South Island’s West Coast, the plains of Central Otago and the Victorian architecture of Oamaru. Scenes of an Anzac Day ceremony and marching girls also highlight the homeland setting. Kerry Brown took inspiration from Salvador Dali paintings for the psychedelic effects added in post-production.

Check it out!

And please…stay safe, my friends. 

Love, Dyane

It doesn’t pay to make predictions
Sleeping on an unmade bed
Finding out wherever there is comfort there is pain
Only one step away
Like four seasons in one day

http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/four-seasons-in-one-day-1992

 

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 2017.

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Resting

This will be a rather short post.

Instead of my typical 1500+ rambling word slush pile, I’m aiming for half of that. It’s good, I guess, because I’m sure you’re busy. Additionally I’ve read that it’s best to keep blog posts around 600 words to attract the most readers. While I’ve completely ignored that dictum, I have no delusions of this becoming a mega-popular blog. 

So…

Last Saturday morning I felt healthy as a horse.

Wait a minute. Why do we silly humans say that phrase?

“Healthy as a horse” comes from a time when health was equated with strength. Presumably, anyone who’s strong is healthy (unless you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger – hope I don’t offend any A.S. fans!) and in olden times a horse was an excellent example of a large, strong animal.

Therefore, one who hoped to be as “healthy” as a horse was; i.e. to be able to pull one’s own weight, endure rough conditions, and ride all day and night. 

As you know, horses were often used as idioms for other signs of strength or largeness. (You’ll note I’m leaving out a raunchy example.)

There are: 

“Eat like a horse” (which I do) and “Work like a horse” (which I don’t). 

Last Saturday morn it was a sunshiny day, and I was feeling fine and dandy and equine-ish. I had fun recording my vlog with Miss Lucy. Together we conjured up names for phantom Big Pharma meds. The post received some creative replies that were a hoot! You can read it here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/new-contest-your-suggestions-for-big-pharma-med-names/

But then, woe was me. That same evening I went from being healthy as a horse to sick as a…I don’t want to write “dog” because that has been overdone and my dog is very healthy, knock on wood, thank you very much! – how about sick as Donald Trump?!

I was befallen by my first creeping crud cold of the fall season. I usually get a cold each Halloween. (That’s a big bummer since Halloween is my favorite day of the year.) But I got my cold early and I’ve felt inhuman for the past three days.

I’m coming out of the snot/cough-fest now, but I’m wiped out.

Because of that, I’m resting. Ahhh yes.

I’m so grateful I’ve been able to rest.

Thank God Craig drove the kids to school the past two mornings to help me out. I call the elementary school parking lot the 10th Circle of Dante’s Inferno; it’s where the other parent drivers are off-the-hook rude/aggressive/mean/zombie-like. If you enter that zone, you need to be on it in terms of driving agility. 

Apart from my cold affecting me, guess who chose last Friday night to go off Seroquel again? (with her psychiatrist’s blessing, of course.) Me! Lucky me!

Here’s an equation to express my current state:

Seroquel withdrawal + a nasty cold = you wouldn’t want to be near me today

Those of us who have bipolar know that things could be MUCH worse. That fact never escapes me. But having a cold, feeling drained, and not being able to take my nightly 15mg “golden handcuff” pill has made me one helluva  whiny baby. To cheer myself up, I’ve been watching some television programs that I want to share with you.

They are:

1) The entire four seasons of BBC’s Scott and Bailey series (This is episode one) This is a show created by women featuring two high-ranking female police detectives in jolly good Manchester, England. Scott and Bailey rocks. This kind of show isn’t usually my cup of tea, but it’s SO good in heaps of ways that I’m hooked! It can be gory, though, so be warned, but it’s not nearly as gross as the U.S. police dramas.

2) Ridiculous pranks that have made my girls laugh incredibly hard – these videos have also served to give us some “educational moments”, i.e., “Girls, don’t do that!” The link to some of that silliness is here

That’s it. I hope you enjoy listening to “Resting”, one of my favorite Tim Finn songs. The New Zealand-born Tim Finn co-founded Split Enz and sang in Crowded House with his brother Neil Finn. “Resting”, from Tim’s solo album Imaginary Kingdom, is a truly soothing song and I love it!

take care, take your vitamin C etc., and I’ll be back next week with a follow-up to the Hawaii post.

Dyane

p.s. On a totally unrelated note, after publishing 300 posts I discovered that if one lists more than 15 tags (including categories) on a post, then the tags won’t work on WordPress. Big whoops! Did all of you know that but me? Well, better late than never, right? Ever since I figured this out I’ve gotten a flurry of followers who were able to find me.

Dyane Leshin-Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press next year.

My Brother-in-Law Died Today

 

This Crowded House song, one of my all-time favorites, is for my brother-in-law of seventeen years. He died at his home earlier this morning, surrounded by his family. He was too young to go. He’ll never hold his first grandchild.

My husband is in shock, as are my children. And me. 

I dedicate the Crowded House song “How Will You Go”, one of my all-time favorite songs, to Don.

 

“How Will You Go”

written by Neil and Tim Finn, performed by Crowded House

Escape is on your mind again
Escape to a far away land
At times it seems there is no end
To long, hard nights of drinking
How will you go?
How will you go?
Drive through the wind and the rain
Cover it up
Cover it up
I’ll find you a shelter to sleep in
I fell over on the couch again
But you know not all sleep is wasted
The dreams are alcohol inspired
I can’t find a better way to face itHow will you go?
How will you go?
Drive through the wind and the rain
Cover it up
Cover it up
I’ll find you a shelter to sleep in

And you know I’ll be fine
Just don’t ask me how it’s going
Gimme time, gimme time
‘Cause I want you to see
‘Round the world, ’round the world
Is a tangled up necklace of pearls

How will you go?
How will you go?
Drive through the wind and the rain
Cover it up
Cover it up
I’ll find you a shelter to sleep in

How will you go?
How will you go?
Drive through the wind and the rain
Cover it up
Cover it up
I’ll find you a shelter to sleep in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Dream It’s Over (My Postpartum Progress Update)

 

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The decision could have gone either way and frankly I was prepared for the worst:

To be ignored…

To be shunned…

To have my deepest concerns minimized…

Some of you who read My Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder Gets No Respect Part One and Part Two know that I contacted Postpartum Progress to ask if they’d include information about postpartum bipolar disorder (now termed “bipolar disorder with peripartum onset” in the DSM-5) on their ginormously popular website.

Postpartum Progress is one of the largest, most influential U.S. nonprofits that assists women living with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD’s) aside from Postpartum Support International. Both PP and PSI are amazing organizations which provide information, encouragement and networking for women living with postpartum mood disorders.

In 2014 Postpartum Progress published my article edited by Cristi Comes about postpartum bipolar disorder. After this article went live, postpartum bipolar disorder was included in a list of PMAD’s on Postpartum Progress’ fundraiser Climb Out of the Darkness page.  

However, postpartum bipolar disorder wasn’t mentioned on the most important website pages defining each PMAD. Some of these page titles include “PMAD’s We Think You Need to Know About”and “FAQ’s” – the very pages that anxious, possibly mentally ill moms scan when they’re in crisis. This information could help mothers  who might have this lesser-known disorder but not be aware of its symptoms.

I had a big problem with this omission and I couldn’t let it go – and believe me, I wanted to forget about it. The way I saw it was this: if you’re going to run a nonprofit for mothers with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, then you need to include every single PMAD in your information pages. It’s not enough to list PPBD in one paragraph and publish my article about it (which is buried among the hundreds of other articles) yet otherwise ignore its existence.

A couple days ago I decided to send a second email to Postpartum Progress as I had sent it almost a month ago but hadn’t heard back. Today I got great news in my email’s in-box from Postpartum Progress founder Katherine Stone. She apologized for not getting back to me sooner, explained they have an extremely small staff (which I knew) and wrote that if I write up something about bipolar disorder, peripartum onset, she’ll be glad to include it on the site. She also mentioned they’re redoing their “Warrior Mom” badges this fall (I explain this in my “Respect” posts) and she promises me there will be a badge for bipolar disorder, peripartum onset! 

(I like the sound of postpartum bipolar disorder better but I need to go with the DSM-5 terminology for Postpartum Progress. )

I was so happy to get Katherine’s email. I knew she was busy as their big Warrior Moms conference had just ended a few days before I sent my first email, and I wrote her that I understood that she or another staffer would need time to get back to me.

BUT…

I had to go with my gut and be a pain in the ass, hence email #2. 

Frankly, I might not have been so caught up with nagging Postpartum Progress to mention PPBD if I wasn’t constantly reminded that my perinatal mood and anxiety disorder doesn’t exist by almost everyone. It gets old real fast! I was pleased and stunned for a minute when I read BP Magazine editor Elizabeth Forbes’ article “Your Particular Slice of Bipolar” in the Summer 2015 issue – she included a “bipolar disorder, peripartum onset” definition. Oh joy!

Sure, I’m writing my book to educate people about postpartum bipolar, but we all know that almost everyone is writing a book these days, including my hound Lucy.

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As much as I’ll promote Birth of a New Brain (and at that point I’m probably going to lose my Seroquel belly from all the effort) it’s likely to get lost in the shuffle of the tribble-like profusion of books published every day. 

Those who can make the biggest impact to educate others about PPBD are established perinatal mental health nonprofits, doctors, hospitals etc. through the internet and other channels. After my book is published and promoted, I’d like to start a nonprofit for mothers with postpartum bipolar disorder.  I’ve worked for no less than three nonprofits and I know a thing or two about the good, the bad and the ugly. I’d really love to do this and we shall see!

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Moving on…(if you want a direct, concise “brevity is the soul of wit”-style post, this blog is not for you! 😉 I’ve noticed some women, including me, rarely get the assistance they deserve unless they get angry at the customer service representative or doctors or what have you. It’s bizarre.

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I’ve fired off emails that are sweet-as-pie and never get a response, but when I’ve sent emails with a subject title such as “I’m extremely disappointed”, “An unhappy fan”, or “I’m furious!” I got a speedy reply! It shouldn’t be like that, but it often is. So I’m glad I didn’t have to get angry (not “bipolar angry”, but simply angry) in this particular situation. I don’t like playing that game one bit. 

I’ve saved the end of this post for my Crowded House Don’t Dream It’s Over speech. If there’s something important to you that you want to do (but you keep putting it off) PLEASE don’t give up. Maybe you’ve attempted this difficult task a few times to no avail. I’m giving you permission this very moment to go easy on yourself about the whole matter, but give whatever it is one more chance. I want you to have your Postpartum Progress moment! Take to heart the words of the great Neil Finn:

“Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win”

 

Thanks for reading, my friends – have a great ‘n groovy weekend!

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Artwork by blogger extraordinaire Blahpolar Diaries – I actually thought this was a coffee mug at first! Can I blame the meds?

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

Let’s Play the Schadenfreude Game! (A Writer’s 1st Rejection)

Maybe

Schadenfreude.…what a word.  

It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue unless you’re German, perhaps. I’ll have to discuss how to pronounce it when I meet with my German-born therapist. Dictionary.com’s definition of schadenfreude is “satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.” The word’s origin comes from “schaden,” meaning harm, and “freude,” which means joy. Ever since I began blogging, I’ve noticed that my posts with alarming titles which contain the most angst (another word of German origin) have received the most views and comments. I’ve observed the same phenomenon with many others’ blogs as well. Welcome to Schadenfreudeland!

What does schadenfreude have to do with this post? You’ll see. Well, you may be wondering what the writing rejection is all about. Let me back up to last November…take a breath, this is quite a spiel.  

In the chilly fall of 2014, I was hard at work writing my book Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder. While I knew it wasn’t the next Whitbread Book of the Year, I believed my concept was unique in that no other published book (to my knowledge)has focused on childbirth-triggered bipolar disorder.  

My original plan wasn’t to even think about searching for another publisher until I had a complete first draft. “Another publisher” isn’t a typo.  In 2013, during the beginning of a hypomanic episode, I submitted a book proposal and secured a book contract with a health publisher. I canceled the deal because I relapsed while tapering off bipolar medication. (Never again.)

“I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could have been somebody!”

Marlon Brando as “Terry” in “On The Waterfront”

After that mess, I wanted a fresh start with a more established publisher.  I was familiar with New Harbinger Publications, a publisher founded when I was three-years-old. New Harbinger has published books about bipolar disorder and bipolar memoirs, right in line with my material. I owned a few New Harbinger titles such as The Tao of Bipolar, Back from the Brink, and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder.   Months before I had remotely considered pitching New Harbinger, they published Dr. Ruth C. White’s excellent book Preventing Bipolar Relapse. At that time I was writing book reviews, and I connected with Dr. White because I wanted to review her book for my International Bipolar Foundation blog.  

I was so impressed with Dr. White’s philosophy that I offered to help promote her book any way I could through social media and blogging.  She put me in touch with her New Harbinger publicist to help get the word out more effectively. When I decided to check if New Harbinger accepted unsolicited book proposals, I examined their website for submission information. It turned out that authors could submit a proposal without an agent, so I carefully reviewed their particular guidelines a zillion times.

I already had a completed book proposal but I had to tailor it to New Harbinger’s specifications.  Believe me when I tell you that I worked my ASS off on the proposal.  My husband Craig, a published author of the successful, critically acclaimed book Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West, reviewed my work and gave me great feedback.

Aside from Craig and my writing muse/puppy Lucy, I didn’t breathe a word to anyone about my plan in case my proposal was rejected. The New Harbinger website’s book proposal guidelines state, “Due to the high volume of proposals we receive, the evaluation process typically takes two to three months. In all cases, we will get back to you as quickly as possible with our publishing decision.” I assumed their staff would notify me whether or not they accepted my proposal as a courtesy and also as a confirmation that they received the proposal in the first place.  

I waited the requisite three months. I didn’t hear a peep. I knew that definitely wasn’t a good sign, but I told myself,  “Surely they’d email me a form letter letting me down!”  I also felt uneasy as I wasn’t 100% positive they got my proposal and reviewed it.  I wanted confirmation and closure so I could move on. I waited another month. Then, I emailed them inquiring about the status of my proposal.  

Crickets.

I decided to use my “connections.”I searched for the email correspondence I had with New Harbinger’s publicist and found it, complete with her direct phone line. I figured I had nothing to lose at that point except some dignity, so I emailed her asking if there was a chance she could check on my proposal status.

When I helped her promote one of her authors, she got back to me right away, but when it came to me, I didn’t receive a reply. Sadly, I wasn’t surprised, but I had to give it the old college try. As I inwardly cringed, I left her one brief, professional-sounding (i.e. not too desperate) voicemail message.

Chirp, chirp.

Then, for the hell of it, I emailed New Harbinger the proposal again.  Infantile, I know, but three days later I finally got a reply:

“Dear Dyane, Thank you for sending us your proposal. After careful consideration, we must, unfortunately, decline the privilege of publishing your book because it does not fit our editorial needs. Most of our books are step-by-step self-help guides. We publish very few memoirs. That said, we recognize that your book has the potential to help many people who have faced a similar situation, and we wish you the best of luck in locating just the right publisher. Sincerely, The Acquisitions Department New Harbinger Publications Proposals@newharbinger.com

YUCK! Their email noted, “We publish very few memoirs.”  Uh, duh! Before I ever contacted them, I gleaned their memoir listings.  While they were obviously trying to lessen the blow of rejection, I thought they came off as patronizing. I didn’t really care how many memoirs they published; it was a moot point, as I still believed they should have published mine!  My memoir wasn’t even a pure memoir, as I explained in my proposal, but a memoir with a separate section designed to help the reader with resources and other lovely bits.

While some of the New Harbinger memoirs looked good, other titles did not impress me at all.  “My writing and my concept is as good as some of their books!” I muttered in a futile attempt to bolster up my ravaged writer’s esteem. That’s the thing with rejections. Even if your writing is good or even excellent, a rejection will make you feel deeply insecure about your writing quality. I shouldn’t speak for everyone, but having my writing rejected made me feel like shit. Then anger and defensiveness washed over me…

F*ck THEM! I thought. It’s THEIR loss!  I discussed this situation with a sympathetic, tolerant Craig.  I explained to him, “I looked at their job listings, and they’re advertising for an Acquisitions Editor and a Senior Publicist, so something funky is going on there!  They obviously don’t have their act together!  I didn’t even have a person sign my rejection email, but a ‘department’.”  He listened to me patiently, agreed with me, and then ran away.

When I received the New Harbinger email, the timing was pretty rotten. I got it the night before my first support group met. That evening I was exhausted from a day filled with cleaning the house and firming up last-minute details. I had already known in my heart that my proposal was a no-go with New Harbinger, but to look at their email took the wind out of my sails.  

Then, I took a deep breath.  I remembered how my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle received so many rejections that she almost gave up writing when she hit forty! I knew that my sulking time with New Harbinger was now officially over. I had a brand-new support group to focus upon, and while I was nervous as hell about it, I was also very excited. Being rejected happens to every writer. No one was taking away my ability to write. Hell, I was even opening up to the idea of self-publishing someday!  It was helpful to get the closure I needed from New Harbinger, and it turned out the following day that the support group’s energy was the best way to soothe my wounded ego.  

As my extraordinary friend Greg Archer, a gifted author of the memoir Grace Revealed says, “ONWARD.”

Here I am with my first publishing contract – while it’s null and void,

I keep it to remind me that I have the potential for success, and that my writing doesn’t suck!

Photo on 2015-03-06 at 08.32 #2 “I coulda been a contender, people!”

p.s. This meme made me laugh, although I think it’s kind of stretching it a little when it comes to the schadenfreude concept. And are you wondering how schadenfreude relates to my tale of woe?  I almost forgot to explain how that fits in here, but you’ve probably figured it out!  I’ve always been fascinated about other writers’ experiences of professional rejection of their work.  I admit I undergo schadenfreude during those times – I feel like I’m not the only rejected writer on the planet. That comforts me.  While I’m not a total sadist —  I’m not happy about another one’s misery — I feel less alone in our shared experience of rejection.  

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“Gott sei Dank, es ist Freitag!”

Mundane, Mysterious and Bloody Acts of Writing

Photo on 2014-09-10 at 11.34 #2Lucy the Canine Muse says hello while I’m writing at my desk

 

Today I reviewed the introduction and chapter one of my book, which I wrote several years ago.

I was totally appalled with certain sections that I used to think were rock-solid.  

I wondered things such as, “What on EARTH was I thinking?”, “Why-oh-why didn’t I see those errors? I have an English degree, dammit!”,  and “Whhaaaaaaat?

Writing is so strange.  If I write a few paragraphs and wait just one day, I always find ways to improve them.  Always.  At the very least I find egregious, embarrassing typos and/or syntax bugaboos.  More often than not I find entire sections that need to be changed or cut.

It’s perplexing, and it raises my blood pressure, but I also find this phenomenon fascinating.

When is a piece of writing done?  The pattern that I describe shows that writing is never truly complete, and that it can always be smoother, wittier, more profound, and even 100% grammatically correct.  The same concept could be applied to any creative pursuit, of course.  

I guess it’s about acceptance of the imperfect, and about setting limits with one’s examination (navel gazing?) of one’s writing.  That sounds simple enough, right?

Oooooh, it’s not simple!  Not for this silly procrastinating perfectionist!

I’ve also been daydreaming about other aspects of writing, i.e. what inspires us to write,  and “the flow” of creativity that descends upon us when we least expect it.

The other day I listened to an interview with Neil Finn, who is one of my favorite singer/songwriters of Crowded House.  Neil was being interviewed about Crowded House’s album “Time On Earth”.  That album holds special meaning for me because some of its songs are about the suicide of Neil’s best friend, a gifted musician named Paul Hester, Crowded House’s drummer.  I met Paul in New Zealand when I flew there to basically stalk Crowded House, and he was charming, kind and funny with me, since I was a nervous wreck.  He reportedly suffered with bipolar disorder.   I write more about Paul and Neil here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/paul-hester-neil-finn/

Neil’s interview closed with his observations of the songwriting process.  He mused,

 “Tapping into the divine inspiration – I have no idea and I never will,  I don’t think…it always seems like it’s harder every time, but it probably isn’t.  It’s probably the same.  The contradiction being in the whole process is that when it happens it’s effortless, and getting to the point of where it’s effortless is an internal struggle, so I don’t know…I don’t understand it.”

http://neilfinn.com/videos/crowded-house/page/11/

As Neil discussed his songwriting I realized that his thoughts about “divine inspiration” applies to writing a book as well as a song.   My ears pricked up when he mentioned “internal struggle”.  I’m not feeling like anything is effortless this morning, nor do I feel graced with divine inspiration, although there’s plenty of internal struggle going on!  (Note to Wendy K. Williamson, bestselling author of I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar, if you’re reading this, I promise not to whine too much in future posts. Well, maybe.)

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Recently the writer Jeff Smith of Higher Trust Marketing shared a Ernest Hemingway quote with me that gave me pause:

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

I’m no Hemingway, and I never will be (or aim to be) for that matter!  What I do want is for my writing to be consistently good, insightful, and ultimately helpful to others.  Do I really need to “bleed” in order to do that?  

I hope not.  

I’ve suffered enough, like all of you reading this.  No bleeding, please.  

As some you know, my goal is to finish the draft by my birthday!  At this point the only birthday present I want for the rest of my birthdays is to finish the damn draft! 😉  I’ll keep you posted.

Have a GOOD weekend, dear readers!!!

XOXO
Dyane