I am taking charge of me

do be free

I’ve had so much talk counselling/therapy in the past 22 years that I am completely sick of it. The advice I’ve survived, the lectures I’ve tolerated, the scoldings I’ve gritted my teeth through, the sympathy, the empathy, the tears, I’m sick of it all. There is no cure, not mainstream or alternative, for the mental illnesses that have plagued my life. I’m sick and tired of people in positions of learning telling me I just need to try this or that or the other. Step back, experts! I’m taking charge of me!

You know what I need? I need to stay in my house and not be harassed to go to appointments that only add stress. I need to stay in my house and cook good food. Stay in my house and write my book. Stay in my house and write my blog. Stay in my house and love my friends and family from right here in my studio, where I can breathe easy, feel safe, feel happy. That’s what I need right now. Anyone who says different just ain’t living in my skin and hey, you don’t know how it is.

Thanks for listening to this.

be you xx Rachel

Loving My Writing Studio

It’s a gorgeous, sunny Winter Sunday and my writing studio is bright and warm thanks to the wall of windows across the back. It’s a really nice place to be. The kind of place I can look forward to spending time.

I have a second hand recliner in the corner, where I sit and read or edit my work. I have a white melamine round table in the centre of the room, with plants on it that I often forget to water and then wonder why they’re not thriving. At the moment I have papers spread across my whole desk, needing to be sorted into trays; my old business, tax, blog or writing fodder, government forms, current work. Maybe tomorrow?

Our chickens are very quiet in the yard. They’re not loving this cold weather. Usually they’d be marching around the entire yard clucking and chatting to one another, reinforcing the pecking order, hoping we’ll step out the back with a bucket of kitchen scraps so they can fight like ninjas for each little bit.

My dog Kira needs a bath. Really badly needs a bath. She loves to go under the house and take a dust bath, or dig up an old lizard she killed and rub herself in its putrid goo. She gets so confused when we invite her into the house and then start yelling in disgust at the smell and order her back outside. I thing she sees us as mentally deficient and incapable of making a decision.

It’s time to make Sunday lunch, but I feel like baking instead. I have leftover stewed fresh strawberries and I thought I might make vanilla cupcakes with the strawberries mixed through. Maybe I’ll have some of last nights leftover spaghetti in garlic red sauce first.

I hope your day is as nice as mine has been so far.

be you xx Rachel

Writing Fiction and Living In The Story

It happens to me every time I get the momentum to write a new book. I start writing and the story carries me into the lives of my characters, into the scenes I write, in front of them a little, so I know what’s about to happen. Sometimes. Other times I have no idea what I’m going to write until it comes out on the page.

I’m writing by hand, with pen and paper. This story just cried out to have the groundwork written by hand. When I say the groundwork, I mean the first draft, but I have a thing against the term ‘first draft’. What is a first draft? It is writing! Everything after that is rewriting or editing or the adding on of words. I’ve been known to scrap a whole chapter and write it again, but I still classify that as rewriting.

Inside a new book, as I am, everything that happens in my day is possible fodder to be included in the story. My husband cooking garlic and tomatoes for pasta, my cat standing on his one remaining back leg, trying to open the window, songs from the eighties being played on the radio, all of these things might just appear on my page, in the groundwork.

Some of what I write will end up having no place in the book. Some of it will turn out to be a distraction, a misuse of words, a dead end that I had to write at the time to get to the real story. Every word of the finished work must be in service of the story as a whole. Every character, setting, event and even the red herrings, must somehow service the story. This is the only way to write a delicious, fulfilling whole.

The great thing about writing with pen and paper is that I can do it anywhere, there are no batteries to go flat, I don’t have to keep saving it and in a strange way, I feel connected to the words in a way that I never do when typing them.

My book has a working title, but I’m not ready to share that just yet. I guess I think of it as book #6, but also as the book I’m writing after my divorce, after being single in my forties, after being remarried, and lots more. Life experiences definitely impact on my writing, and I wonder what I’m writing now that I wouldn’t have written say a month or a year ago. I know I have a different feel for what it’s like to be single, now that I’ve spent some time out there after a nineteen year marriage. I have a different feel for what it is to fall in love.

I’m much less mechanical about my writing than I used to be. I think because I spent time ghost writing and learned to trust myself that the words would get written as long as I kept at it daily. Years ago, I would write at the same time every day, seven days a week. I had a minimum word count for the day and would push my way to it. Now I just pour the words out as they come, I spend time every day just daydreaming about the book, the story, the characters, the theme. I’m really enjoying it.

I am looking forward to seeing what I write tomorrow, and I can’t wait until I have the whole book down. I love those two little words we writers constantly head towards; The End.

be you xx Rachel

Rainy Sunday Musings from a Borderline Personality Disorder Lifer

It is raining and windy here today, pretty much gale force. Level = Stay Home!

luigi after op

I’m listening to the radio, keeping an eye on Facebook, taking care of my newly-three legged cat, reading an easy book, writing my book in my head. Rainy Sundays are the best for writing. They take you under their wing and help your imagination soar, effortlessly, from one idea to the next.

be you xx Rachel

I’m An Empty Nester Filled With Guilty Glee and Some Sadness

Today I am an ’empty-nester’ and I think that I could write about the guilty glee of this new situation. Part of me wants my boys to live with me till the day I die, so I can make them pancakes for breakky on the weekends, cook them chicken soup when they’re sick and laugh with them about the weirdness of life in general. I love my boys.

a journal mine

Today, my house is my own and I have never really lived like this before, except for a short time when I shared custody of the boys. That was not fun in any way, and all I felt was guilt and shame for getting divorced because of what it did to their lives. Now, I have my house to myself and my husband, who has decided that it’s time to go naked ’round the house, 24/7.

Today I’m in my new writing studio, the sunny back verandah room that used to be my youngest sons bedroom. I have a new novel burning its way into my consciousness, out through my fingers. I have a main character who wants her story told. I’m excited.

be you xx Rachel

My Hometown Is Changing and I Went To My Shrink but These Things Are Not Related

My hometown, Gosford, is going through some big changes, or at least they are being battled out in council, back and forth. The next time I can leave the house, I’d love to go to the local library and see the proposed waterfront developments. The school I attended is now empty, sitting ready to be razed to the ground and replaced with shops and tourist draw cards of some sort or another.

I just found this ‘Masterplan’ online. Insert evil laugh, I guess? Gosford City Waterfront Masterplan

Shrink Appointment Hello from the other side. The other side of a shrink appointment. This morning I woke up exhausted from the two big panic attacks I’ve had this week, my head still spinning from upping my anti psychotic meds, and had to make myself get ready for my shrink appointment. It was epic.

The appointment went well and I have new, more powerful meds to keep the whole ‘I see dead people and they are telling me to create a hole in my forehead with the cordless drill’ thing at bay. It’s really weird to see things that aren’t there. Sounds obvious, I know, but it truly is bizarre to have non-existent people and animals in the room with you when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone.

My writing is going absolutely full-steam at the moment. I’m working on my memoirs, a novel and a book about mental illness and life. Sounds like a lot, but by working on a few things at the same time, my brain forgets to get ‘blocked’. My novel will be the most out-there, real life story I’ve ever written. The main character is one wild chickadee who is more than a little out of control.

Writing A Novel One Day At A Time

I’m writing my new novel, hoping that this will be the book I get published. So far, I’ve only been setting myself up to write, really; organising my initial thoughts about what my main character is like, blocking out some chapter ideas and possible directions for the flow of the story. Writing a first chapter to get the feel of the voice I’ll use.

eavesdrop 6

I am the kind of writer who doesn’t know what’s going to happen until I write it.This works very well for me, and keeps my excited about the book all the way to the last word. Sometimes it means I have to go back and rewrite entire sections of the book, because the freedom I allow myself can take me in new and completely unexpected directions. The funny thing is that when I read back over my writing, I can hardly see where I stopped one day and started the next. I find this amazing. My moods can be so radically different from even hour to hour, but my writing stays fairly well on course.

My daily task is to write 2000 words, and I aim to start writing in the morning and not stop until I have my word count. Some days it takes two hours and some days it takes much longer, but I find that if I make my goal a word count, I can distract myself very efficiently from the self questioning and doubts.

My tried and true, best ever trick to ward off what they call ‘writers block’ is to sit at my laptop and type these words; It’s really hard to write today because… and then I keep on with that, listing every single thing that is pulling at me to prevent me from writing that day.

Some days I write pages of reasons why it’s so hard to write, and other days I write just a phrase that encapsulates my not-writing mood so well, it propels me into a writing head-space. I think this habit is almost a meditation. My inner writer knows with certainty that we are sitting here to write, and write we will, so let’s get writing the story.

Of course there are times when I need to pause and reflect, ponder, muse, stare into space and let the possible paths of the story play out in my imagination. This is completely essential to the process of writing a solid first draft. Also, I keep a notebook and pen with me at all times, because thoughts will come to me at any time of the night or day, informing my choices about plot, characterization, theme. I can be having coffee with someone and they’ll say something that totally answers a question I had about the story.

A writing mentor told me years ago that I have a very organic process. This is such an awesome way of saying I do whatever I want in my process, as long as it writes the book. I’ve written a whole book sitting up in bed, a few hours each morning. That one took me 13 weeks. I wrote another book with my laptop on my lap, watching cartoons each day. That one took 9 weeks.

This book I think I’ll be writing right here, on my cheap little laptop table on wheels, in my living room, probably watching a lot of DVDs like Law and Order, Six Feet Under, and The Mentalist.

My psychiatrist encouraged me to write. Some of the most prolific writers in the world have struggled with mental illness. Writing is certainly the only thing I’ve ever found in my life that I can do, no matter where my head is at. It’s my refuge. Published or not, I’m enjoying being back in a book again. It’s such familiar territory. I’m truly looking forward to seeing what my characters do next.

be you xx Rachel

Writing Is My Happy Place, Mental Illness Or Not

Welcome to my fog-brained, spinning-headed, dizzy-lizzy Saturday! Last night I upped the new meds, as per Pdoc’s directions, and now my head is spinning again. Twirling like a top, I have to keep deleting words that I have misspelled or just written in a completely bizarre way. The only thing I can think of to compare this to is a really big dose of laughing gas at the dentist, but without the laughing. I’ve never tried illegal drugs, so I don’t have anything to compare there.

owly greenpurple

Each time you add to your meds, the side effects bloom and then, if you’re a good match, they subside to a more manageable level. You’re never truly free of the mental illness, and you’re never completely free of the side effects. You just hope you can drive a car, do something in your life that holds some meaning for you, and have relationships with the important people in your life without too much pain.

I feel like I’m made of wet sponge, my head all floppy, my arms and legs not wanting to move where I ask them. My mind is happily relaxed, free of voices except my own. I have a metallic taste in my mouth. I feel like writing.

Writing is my place of peace, joy, love, life, meaning. It’s the one thing that I can always do, no matter what my head is doing. I have a new story pushing its way out of my heart and head, through my fingers. It’s a novel, but I can’t tell you any more than that right now. To share is, sometimes, to mess with the flow, the process. I’m a head down, bum up fast writer once I have my main character.

be you xx Rachel

Moving Office is Fun, But Will I Be Distracted By Terrigal?

I’ve just moved into a new office in downtown Terrigal. It’s a gorgeous place to work, and I get to share the top floor of a building with a friend and colleague who is one of the best people I know. So, I’m absolutely thrilled to be here, across the road from the most beautiful beach in the world. I can’t wait to run my first workshop, facilitate my first course, hold my first consult. I’m just a little bit worried about the distractions.

We have a shower in the bathroom here, ready to jump into after lunchtime Summer swims at the beach. There must be over thirty places downstairs to buy coffee, lunch, dinner and yummies. The local business owners in Terrigal are really friendly, so plenty of opportunities to have a chat. See what I mean? I’m surrounded by distractions.

I need a schedule and self control and a determination to achieve my goals. Right now, I think I’ll go down and grab a coffee. If I sit at the beach and drink it, I’ll definitely come back to the office refreshed and ready to fire on all cylinders.