To Send or Not to Send? (A Self-Indulgent Fantasy!)

“Sometimes a fantasy is all you need…”  

Sometimes a Fantasy by Billy Joel is from the seminal album Glass Houses. I must have listened to that album hundreds of times in the 1970s!

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I wrote last week I’d update you about working with the editors on my book Birth of a New Brain. I’m reviewing their feedback, and I’m editing every day for hours until I speak in tongues, but please, I ask you for an extension, because something else came up! 

It all started yesterday with WhitePages Premium.

I was searching for author Martha Manning’s new email. She’s a psychologist who I interviewed via email in the 1990s for a magazine article. Manning wrote Undercurrents about her ECT experience, one of the best books I’ve read about ECT. I wanted to send her an ARC of my book to see if she might possibly endorse it. (I take breaks from editing to do that sort of thing.)

Well, it turned out that I found it impossible to find an active email for her, so I finally spent a whopping $1.00 for a five-day trial of WhitePages Premium. I plugged in Manning’s name and I was given not one, not two, but six emails for her, including the email that worked for me in the 90s, but all six emails are now stinkers! I was dismayed, to say the least. 

Had I wasted my precious dollar???

It turns out I did not. WhitePages Premium gave me surprisingly accurate contact information for other professionals and even celebrities I’ve been in touch with over the years, so it wasn’t a sham.

I tell you this because:

a) You might want to use this resource.

b) I used it in a moment of weakness which I’d like to share here. Just to be clear, I don’t recommend that you do anything like what I contemplated doing. I want you to learn from my wicked ways!

Si vous plait, allow me to explain.

Some of you might remember my Bad Manners post.

In a nutshell, last year I was excited to learn that my college writing instructor’s play was being produced near my home. Despite my severe social anxiety, I went to the matinee and listened to her speak about the play afterward. It looked like she was doing well. 

I made 100% sure she received a package I left for her at the box office.

I don’t usually do that kind of thing, but I had brought a letter and some gifts for her. After going to that trouble, I gave it to the stage manager because I didn’t want to bug my teacher, and I was freaked out in general.

I spent all afternoon writing that letter, thanking her for being a great influence on me as a writer. I filled her in on my writing career after college, my bipolar diagnosis & its harrowing aftermath, and my upcoming Post Hill Press book. I included my contact info.

I never got a thank-you, not even a one-liner email. 

I know that when we give someone a gift, we should have no expectations. It shouldn’t be “tit for tat.” (Sorry, that’s a dumb phrase you won’t catch me uttering out loud, or writing again for that matter.)  

But I still believe in my heart of hearts there’s no excuse for rudeness.

I wondered if my teacher now felt I wasn’t worth her time since she was no longer just my teacher, but someone who had partnered with one of the most famous and successful writers of our century. (By the way, I know how ridiculous this all sounds.) Maybe she didn’t want to associate with someone with bipolar, or someone who was a small potatoes writer like me. Maybe she had a crisis, right? Who knows.

I certainly don’t know.

I may be a mess of a human being, but I’ve tried my best to thank the kind people who popped up in my life no matter what their status has been.

So let’s go back to WhitePages Premium and see what all the fuss is about!

Believe it or not, I had forgotten about what happened with my teacher, but when I played around with WhitePages Premium, I put her name into the tabs. Up came several emails for her, plus her address which I already knew was accurate.

I wrote this draft:

Dear Teacher,

I want to thank you so much for not thanking me for my letter and gifts. I was shocked I never got a reply because I don’t think you would have ignored my letter in 1991.

However, I learned a valuable lesson – I must have learned a lesson since you were one of the best teachers I ever had, but I just don’t know what the hell it is.

All my best,

Dyane

PLEASE NOTE I DIDN’T SEND THAT GROSSLY IMMATURE EMAIL!

Plus, I read it to Craig and he talked me off the “I’m gonna press ‘send’ ledge.” Moreover, this teacher and I live in a small town, and I don’t think I should burn a bridge with her in that way. But dang, I was tempted to send it!

What would you do if this kooky scenario happened with a teacher you admired…who you connected with and never forgot even though you had sh*tloads of unilateral and bilateral ECT?

Let it go?

(That’s what my Frozen soundtrack-loving girls would sing at me!) 

Thanks for reading, and have a good week!

Love,

Your friend who loves to air her brain’s dirty laundry

 

The first two lines sum it up so well: 
“This is a story about two writers. A story, in other words, of envy.”

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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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The Nasty Bits of Envy

searchAs I write this today, I’m in a bit of a funk.  Nothing too alarming, mind you.  In my true “T.M.I.” fashion, despite turning forty-four on Tuesday, I’m not hitting menopause yet. Hence, my monthly “adventure” is on its way.  Apart from that, it was a rough morning dealing with our kids.  They clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  After dropping them off at school, I stepped in a small mountain of chicken poo and I tracked it all over our floors until I finally noticed it.  On the brighter side of things, it’s helpful for me to blog while crabby, as writing is such a great catharsis.  Plus I don’t have to cut a chunky check to either a psychiatrist or a therapist.

Anyway, these things I mentioned above are small matters.  Whenever I glance at the news, I am reminded that life could be much worse.  The fact that I’m keeping bipolar relapse at bay is enough of a cause for daily celebration.

So, what are the nasty bits, exactly?  Well, I must begin with mentioning author Anthony Bourdain. One of his many books is titled The Nasty Bits.  While his title refers to the edible parts of animals that most North Americans would never eat in their wildest dreams (tete de veau/calf’s head, anyone?), I thought of the title in relation to my pesky envy problem.

I have nasty bits of envy rising up frequently.

Over the past few months I’ve returned to writing regularly,both  as a hobby (this blog) and for work (my book).  While writing has been gratifying, I’ve become too caught up with author comparisons.  Comparisons can be odious indeed.  (I wish I could take credit for coining that phrase, but alas, it was created circa 1440 by John Lydgate.)

At least I’ve come to terms with the fact that my book, once published, will not become a bestseller.  The subject matter I’m writing about isn’t mass market material, and I can accept that.  I am writing the book that I wish I had when I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder, plain and simple.  If it helps only a handful of readers, I’ll be totally thrilled!

I had a junior high school friend who went on to become a bestselling writer, a highly respected professor, and a winner of numerous mega-prestigious writing awards.  Her fan base is massive and almost cult-like.  One of her books was even made into a feature film with a “big name” star.  While I’m happy for her, I’ll admit I’ve had pangs of green as well.  I’m not going to name her because after my botched-blogging (discussed in yesterday’s post), I’m sure she would find this comment and rake me over some coals.

I keep reminding myself, “You are writing first and foremost for yourself.  You are not writing to win a Pulitzer Prize.”  One of my favorite authors Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle In Time) comes to mind.  Wrinkle, which has had phenomenal success over the decades, was rejected by many a publisher until it found a home at Farrar, Straus & Giroux.  L’Engle even had an entire decade of rejection and almost gave up writing when she hit forty.  That kind of brutal rejection has occurred with many other famous authors as well.

Meanwhile, my husband’s book Quest for Flight – John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West has won many awards of its own!  In fact, this weekend he’s being honored  in Hollywood, Los Angeles.  Quest for Flight won the Great Southwest Book Festival’s Regional Literature Award.  I ‘m proud of him and also genuinely thrilled for him – and I only have a smidgen of envy regarding his accomplishments, which I joke about openly with him.  I called his book “the other woman” during his years of writing it, and he was able to take that in stride.

Fortunately my love for him overtakes my envy and smushes it.  He has always encouraged me to write during the fifteen years we’ve been together.  Craig even calls me the “real” writer in the family, as I was making money from my articles long before he received his first royalty check.  It has also been awfully convenient that he can give me advice culled from his seven-year-long experience writing his book and working with the University of Oklahoma Press.

While blogging has been a surprisingly fulfilling way to write, I’ve gotten way too caught up in the blogging popularity game. (blogularity?) WordPress makes it easy to spend all day analyzing  your blog statistics, which can be fun, but it can also be discouraging.  When I discover a brilliant blog with twenty thousand subscribers in comparison to my eighty-seven followers, it takes the wind out of my sails.  Let me re-phrase that: I allow the mega-blog to take the wind out of my sails.

Yesterday I was Facebook surfing and visited a page belonging to someone with a fulfilling-sounding life that many people would give their eyeteeth to enjoy.   She’s a beautiful person, inside and out.  She wrote a comment that gave me pause; however, writing to her friends that Facebook had a tendency to make her feel “less-than” rather than good enough or even great.  

I thought, “No way!  If Facebook affects her like that, then what can it do to the rest of us?”  

I’ve already won the only prize worth having as far as I’m concerned: my family & stability despite having my insidious bipolar disorder.  There is no need to get caught up with the “not being enough” syndrome.  I’m about to have a session with my counselor, and now I know what to bring up with her today.

She’s not a blogger, nor on Facebook.  (Ah!  The horror, the horror!)  But she does all kind of other cool things, plus she’s a wife, mom and therapist.  My counselor has been totally supportive of my writing and she believes that in sharing my experiences through a book, I’ll  definitely help others.  She’ll be able to shed light on my feelings of envy and insecurity – she knows me very well.   After our meeting, my face will turn from green to rosy pink, and I’ll keep you posted on how I handle my envy  in the months to come!

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