It's time for the July edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group!
Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is a space for writers to voice their insecurities and get support from their fellow writers. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and sign up on the link list.
The optional question this month is: If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?
I kind of wish I was in Oz right now. At least there evil people can be dealt with fairly. In Oz, there are evil beings, but everyone knows who they are. That last part seems to make a difference. Also, there didn't really seem to be disease there. Then again, it's been a long time since I actually read the books, so it could be I didn't remember those things.
Things weren't all rainbows and sprinkles in Oz. I do remember that. But it was still a place to escape as a kid. Return to Oz isn't anywhere near as popular as The Wizard of Oz, but I always loved it. It spoke to that part of me who is healed by seeing the darkness be overcome. In the beginning, Dorothy is in a...we'll call it a mental health facility. I seem to recall some electroshock, perhaps? While evil witches trying to kill little girls and their dogs is freaky, as are flying monkeys, and, most of all, being far from home with no idea how to get back, the beginning part of Return to Oz (and much that followed) always stuck with me. The princess (?) who could change heads, the wheelers, and people being turned into ornaments and decorations if they didn't play a game right.
I don't remember exactly why the beginning got to me so much. Perhaps because this time Dorothy's family had purposely sent her away. They hadn't believed her, had thought she was sick, and they'd sent her away. Why wouldn't that disturb a child?
This springboards into what I'd thought about posting today. I've never kept it a secret that I deal with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Unfortunately, I've had a series of personal life issues that have retriggered the PTSD, so I've been struggling with that. National events have likely compounded it, as what I think set it off was a sense of helplessness. I don't handle being helpless well. I'm a person who prefers to take things into my own hands and fix them. I'm good at fixing things, but some things cannot be fixed.
What does this have to do with writing? I've seen a lot of friends in the writing world suffering from mental health issues lately. The world is a rough place to be right now. If not all, then many of us are suffering from the drastic life changes that came about from a worldwide pandemic. Our lives changed in myriad ways during this, whatever the reasons, and as humans, that requires coping mechanisms. It also often means that there will be ripples, even if we don't know where those ripples originated or how far out they'll go.
Often, impactful situations can hurt our creativity. Even if it doesn't touch our creativity, it may hurt our mental and emotional energy. It turns out we need both of those things to write. I know that I struggle to write when things are hard. While a handful of people were posting about all they were getting done during the last two years, many more were posting that they couldn't write, that the words weren't coming, that they couldn't get themselves to focus on work.
I think, in general, things had started feeling lighter, better, different, and that it maybe lulled us into a false sense of security in terms of looking after ourselves. So now when we're suffering, it may take longer to realize that it's happening in the first place, let alone what personal reasons there are for it. As a result, we might try to push ourselves through it instead of taking the time to stop and care for ourselves and cope. We might get frustrated and angry that we're not doing more, meeting writing goals, buckling down, being as productive as we think we should be.
It took me a couple weeks at least to realize the PTSD was active and that's why I was struggling so much. It's not like you can take a test that magically shows something like that. After all, I spent decades suffering it and not knowing what it was. However, I also know that I tend to self-analyze so much that sometimes I can see things like this in myself faster than others might, so it felt important to send out a gentle reminder that...things aren't okay. Not for a lot of people. Don't be hard on yourself if you're not perfect right now. (Or ever, really, because many of us are always hard on ourselves). Figure out what works for you to cope with depression, anxiety, or whatever you may personally suffer from, and take the time to do those things. I know that may feel like ONE.MORE.THING you have to do. Believe me, I know. All I can say is that you're doing your best, and if you can find it in yourself to do one thing for yourself that will help, that one thing might add up and get you through it.
Take care of yourself first. The writing and creativity will follow.
Switching gears, it's time to report my submission stats for June. I do this each IWSG to keep myself accountable.
0 new submissions
7 rejections (5 personal)
24 stories currently on submission
So how are you doing? What are your insecurities? Are you submitting? Are you taking care of yourself?
May you find your Muse.