Tag Archives: writing

#SickNotWeak

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Last month I was delighted to be a guest author on Michael Landsberg’s website #SickNotWeak. For those who aren’t familiar with him, Landsberg is a Canadian celebrity and sports journalist who speaks publicly about his depression.

Landsberg began #SickNotWeak as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to redefining mental illness in the public eye.  As he explains, “This is a sickness, not a weakness. It is not a reflection of my inner strength. It is not something I willed upon myself – it is an illness.” The site also has an amazing collection of stories that remind people that they are not alone.

So, my article was posted back in September and I meant to tell you about it but I got a little sidetracked. Here it is now. Please take a moment to click the link below…

Speaking Out and Saving Lives

As always, thanks for reading!

My day in haiku…

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Woke up with big plans.

Day off and full to-do list.

“Will be a great day!”

 

Took Dexter to park.

He found bone and wouldn’t leave.

Frustrating as hell.

 

I went to give blood.

Hemoglobin was too low.

No surprise. I’m tired.

 

Important phone call.

Tried to make good impression.

Didn’t go so well.

 

E-mail from agent.

Excitement as I open.

One more rejection.

 

Doctor’s appointment.

“Aren’t I too old for acne?”

More drugs to take… Shit!

 

Tonight’s movie night.

The school gym is full of kids.

They’re high on candy.

 

Tylenol and bed.

Let’s forget today happened.

New day tomorrow.

 

 おやすみなさい (Goodnight)

Another year

 

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About six months ago, I finished writing my first novel. Just completing it was quite an achievement considering I had been pecking away at it for over five years. (It was supposed to be done before I was 40 so I was only a little behind schedule.)

Well, I’d like to think I’ve made up for the delay this week because I’ve just finished writing my second book in record time. I feel like I’ve found a sweet spot in my creativity and have been happier for it.

Today I turned 43. It’s not a significant birthday or a milestone, it just marks the passing of another year. However, this has been a good year so I’m going to think of this as a good birthday.

I’m not sure what my 44th year has in store for me. I’d like to think it will involve some movement towards publication of my novels, but even if it doesn’t, I will keep writing.  Writing has become part of who I am, something I have to do every day or else I feel incomplete.

My pledge for this year is to have more confidence in my writing. Although I’ve had a lot of success with my non-fiction work, my current instinct is to be dismissive of my fiction writing because I have yet to land a publication deal. I still find it hard to call myself a writer.

What I need to accept is that I’m a writer because I write, the same way I am a knitter because I knit. It is the creative process that is important, not the sale of the product.

I’ve had a lovely start to my day. My boys took me out to brunch and I was feted in style. Now I intend to relax, and of course, get some writing in.

Happy birthday to me!

In like a lamb…

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February has flown by, and of that, I’m glad. Let’s hope it takes with it the coughs and cold viruses that have plagued our home and that March brings sunshine to brighten everyone’s moods.

As for me, for the first time in many years, I fought off the depressive low that usually hits me in the dark of winter. I think it has been a combination of good medication, a lot of dog walking, and the pleasure that comes with my writing and public speaking.

In the past two weeks I have given four high school talks on my struggle with depression and have two more booked before May. I have received amazing feedback, gotten countless hugs, and have had a handful of kids talk to me after to admit their own mental health problems. I’ve even had two students tell me that they’ve been thinking about suicide – that they both trusted me enough to disclose this was amazing – that they then let me help them seek help, was even more incredible.

Because the New Year comes in the middle of winter, I never feel like making life changing resolutions. Instead, it is when the snow melts and I begin to see glimpses of spring that I feel inspired. And, although it is bitter cold out today and there is some snow in the forecast, the warm sun streaming through my window and the sight of the greening grass has filled me with the hope that the winter will soon be over and the feeling that it is time to be enthused again.

I’ve received some wonderful e-mails and comments spurred by my talks and my article in Chatelaine, and they made me feel good about myself – something I’m always very uncomfortable doing!

Today I am making a promise to be nicer to myself, to accept praise and positivity when others choose to bestow it upon me. I am going to reread all of the words that people have written to me and I’m going to embrace them for what they are, loving tributes and expressions of thanks.

Today I am going to start practicing self-compassion.

Will you join me?

 

The waiting game

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I am not a patient person; my kids have shown me that. They can be like cold molasses and I have to bite my tongue not to ride them every step of the way.

At work, I’m restless when I’m waiting for patients in clinic. I pace, I fidget, I get annoyed when we run behind.

I’ve always been like this, none of this is new. What is new, however, is the insane level of impatience I’m feeling waiting for feedback on my writing.

Over the past few months, I’ve submitted several pieces of my writing to different publications and competitions. Previous to this, I just posted on my blog and worked on my novel. Suddenly, I’ve found myself waiting for contest results, rejection e-mails, and feedback from editors. I now see that I’m even more terrible at waiting than I realized.

I find myself rereading contest rules, scouring the regulations for the notification details, and checking my inbox obsessively, looking for the new mail that might bring me joy or pain. At this point, I don’t even think I care if I receive rejections; I just crave some acknowledgement of the work that I’ve sent out into the publishing netherworld. I’m like a nervous mother, waiting to hear that their child has arrived safely at their destination.

Things are particularly bad this month because, as I wrote about here, I’m now looking for representation for my novel. Over the past couple of weeks, I have pitched my novel to six agents. (The pitch consists of a query letter and the first couple chapters as a writing sample.) Now, I’m playing the waiting game again, but this time the stakes are huge.

This is MY NOVEL we are talking about, not just a 2000 word article.  This is something that took me YEARS to write!

So, I now find myself feeling uncomfortable almost every waking moment of the day as I wait for feedback that might take months to come back. You see, the line of thinking is that you only pitch to few agents at a time, so that if you don’t get representation you can tweak and improve your pitch to find better success in the next batch of queries. This means, however, that I’m stuck waiting to hear back from these agents before I can take the next steps in the process.

Before you feel too badly for me, I will admit that there has been some news and it’s been positive. Two of the agents have written back that they liked my sample chapters and asked for the full manuscript to review. This is great, of course, but now I’m even more nervous waiting to hear back from them!

The only thing that seems to quell this anxiousness is more writing, and because of that, I have been incredibly productive over the past couple of weeks and have written 25,000 words of a new novel. At least something positive is coming out of all my angst!

Please, keep your fingers crossed that I get some news before I get a bleeding ulcer!

The link you’ve been waiting for…

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Illustration: Moonassi

Yesterday was a pretty big one in Canadian social media, in terms of mental heath issues, because it was Bell Let’s Talk day. This is the day that Bell Media gives 5 cents to various mental health organizations for every tweet, text or post that tags#BellLetsTalk.

I’m a bit two-faced when it comes to this promotion because, although it is fantastic that these millions of dollars are being raised to support mental health initiatives and I tweeted like a maniac, it burns me that good mental health support is so grievously underfunded that it requires the charity of private funders.

But I digress, the purpose of this post is to tell you what I was tweeting about. My Chatelaine magazine article went online yesterday and now all of my international readers can have a gander. Yay!

Here it is… please take a moment to click the link and have a read. It’s the full story of my struggle with depression and my current fight against stigma.

Thanks to all of you for your constant support!

Please let me know what you think. 🙂

Batters up!

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I’m warming up in the bullpen, getting ready to pitch. No, I’m not playing baseball… I’m starting to look for a literary agent.

I am getting ready to start pitching my book and I’ve decided to go the traditional route of looking for an agent prior to cold-pitching publishers. Why? Well, even though I know a lot of writers manage to get published without an agent, I still think the majority of publishers are more receptive to agents then they are to unsolicited queries. Perhaps this is naïve.

Honestly though, the main factor in my decision to pursue representation is that I have no idea what I’m doing in the publishing world and I don’t have the time to try to become an expert. I’m a working mom with a busy family; I’m lucky I have time to write, let alone find time to navigate the ocean of publishers out there. Does that make me lazy? I prefer to think of it as realistic, and I’m willing to forgo a percentage of my future earnings so that I don’t have to run the publisher gauntlet on my own.

So, while I’m doing the final polishing of the novel, I’m also taking time to craft a series of “query” letters. For those readers not in the know, these are letters that you use to sell yourself and your book. Somehow, in less than one page, you need to make yourself (and your book) sound like the best thing since J.K. Rowling. The goal is to pique your target’s interest enough such that they request a full manuscript. Then you cross your fingers that they fall in love with your book, or at least like it enough to consider it saleable.

I just read a piece of advice telling me not to give up until I’ve pitched to at least 100 agents… Sounds like I’ve got a long road ahead of me!

Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and land an agent in my first round of queries, or maybe I’ll pitch to those 100 and still be unrepresented. Either way, it’s exciting to be moving into the next phase of the process.

Wish me luck, and please, give me your advice!