Seeking Help

A good friend recently asked me how I managed to get through the worst parts of my depression and rebuild my confidence. I answered truthfully: therapy played the largest role. I found someone that I could go speak with a couple times a month. I could be happy the whole session; I could cry for the first twenty minutes. I could talk about every little thought that drove me crazy, or I could talk about the silly things that my dog had been doing. It was a 50 minute session devoted to me, and what I wanted to get off my chest, off my mind.

But I did do more than that. When I was at my worst, I found that there were so many things that I did that only served to make me more unhappy. I had social media sites, and forums, that I would go to, and rather than feel stimulated by conversation, I felt miserable. I interpretted things as personal attacks at me because it made the most sense. After all, the negative thoughts in my head had control, so what they told me had to be true. Which wasn’t the case, but when you are stuck in that mindset, and feel the constant pressure of negativity, it’s hard to believe otherwise.

So, I made hard choices. I withdrew from those sites where I felt miserable at. Not because I wanted to let the negative voices win, but because I had to stop the cycle of thoughts in my brain. At the time, I couldn’t get away from one of the largest sources of negativity in my life (my then job), but I could work to surround myself with people and activities outside work that brought me happiness. I had to refind that for me. After all, during the worst parts of my depression, I couldn’t bring myself to write. The simplest thing in the world, and the anxiety of that blank page would send me into a near panic that would inevitably result in my tears.

Through this all, I kept going to see my awesome therapist. She might be telling me the same things that people who loved me told me, but that one on one where it’s all about me, it’s something I do need. Plus, it’s no longer about my husband and my friends trying to carry me, trying to fix me. I’m getting the help I need, and I don’t feel the anxiety of being a burden to others. I also have managed to get off all my anti-depressants, and I’m less likely to try and sequester myself in solitude even on my worst mental health days.

I have pretty bad days still. I’ve had a string of them lately. Unemployment sucks, and it feels like failure on a magnitude that I can’t control. Part of me wants to just hide until I disappear from society entirely, but I don’t want to let that negativity take hold again. So, I’m going to stick to my commitments. I’m going to hang out with my friends, and just enjoy being there, even though my brain is trying to sabotage that for me. I can be stronger than the worst parts of me. I have to work at it, and it’s not something I always win at, but I try.

So, for those out there struggling, I hope maybe part of this helps you. If not, I hope you find what will help you, and just know, that there are people who understand where you are. (Seriously, Wil Wheaton is a huge inspiration for me when it comes to speaking out about this issue.)

Power in the Dresden Files

I’ve been on a good reading kick in the first time in months. Sometimes, when I’m in my writer mindset, I can’t motivate myself to read, for a number of reasons. Ever since I finished the second draft of my novel though, I’ve found myself reading again. It’s been nice to look in other worlds and see these characters.

The majority of my reading has been on The Dresden Files. I am not caught up with the series; I just finished Blood Rites (book six), so there are still some curveballs and twists that I’ve not witnessed yet. I find myself raptly engaged by the world Jim Butcher created, and I like the characters, but there’s something nagging at me as I finish each book, and it has to do with Harry Dresden himself.

Now, I like Harry. I didn’t care much for him after the first book or two, but he did grow on me. As I’ve spent more time with him, his personality has won me over, but there’s something about him on a meta level that pisses me off. He’s overstocked with power, and this trend has continued after every book. Harry is given more and more power, and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. (After all, Anita Blake had the same thing given to her, but the lurid and tasteless sex scenes that began to overrun the novels ran me off before I could find out why Anita was becoming such a powerhouse.)

I don’t know why I dislike this trend. It may be that the writer side of my brain just doesn’t like one person becoming so omnipotently powerful, even if it seems like small steps along the way. Or, maybe it’s the years of roleplaying that makes me dislike when one character is stocked to the point where you wonder why the other characters are even there. (I’ve been in those games. It’s never fun.) I can see that Jim Butcher is working towards a larger picture, and obviously this accrued power is part of that end goal, but I find myself wondering why put so much on one person.

Let’s look at Harry for a moment:

1. He’s a very powerful wizard. The White Council, other spell casters, and other supernatural creatures are all aptly aware of this, and as such, this is pointed out to us as a reader.

2. He has a faery godmother, who traded her boon from him to Mab of the Winter Court. Queen Mab has already once offered to give him the powers of the Winter Knight. (He owes her two more favors, as of where I’ve read. I foresee that this is likely to occur.)

3. He has acquired one of the Swords of the Cross – one of three very holy relics. He did try to give it back, but the other two knights insisted that Shiro wanted him to have it. Now, yes, an angel could come and take it to give it to someone else, I’m sure, but as of right now, Harry has it. (And it’s been shown that one does not have to be a devout Christian to be one of these Knights.)

4. He has a Temple Dog, acquired by accident, but he has one. I did some looking up on what the Temple Dogs do. They help keep one from being afflicted by mind-affecting magic, amongst other things.

5. He has a Silver Coin of the Fallen, a demon that would offer him fantastic power in order to gain control of him. He buried it in his basement, but he now has access to Hellfire, and his burnt hand has skin unburnt in the sigil of the demon that was represented on said coin. (Since he has a temple dog, he would stand to be able to not be as affected by said demon while still somehow accessing the power.)

6. Finally, his mother was Margaret LeFey. I like Arthurian legend. I know the last name LeFey. Morgana, Morgan, however you want to call her. This means that his lineage is of very powerful magic, which could foreshadow even larger scopes of power in his future. Sure, this could go hand in hand with the first point that he was a powerful wizard, but the fact that one of the most well-known sorceresses in our legends could be linked to Harry deserved its own point.

Now, as I said, I’ve not finished what has been written to date, and I am certain that there is something important as to why this has been done. It just irks me. I know that these are Harry’s books, so yes he is going to be the center of everything that occurs, but I’d kind of like to see the power spread out. Yes, there are other big bads and powerful entities, but we’re starting to see that Harry is culminating enough power to be akin to a god. He’s fallible, and that makes him endearing as a character. I guess I just wished that I knew more as to why Harry has to be so powerful. (I’ve heard rumors of how this series might end, and I’m sure all of this plays into that, but right now, it seems supremely unbalanced.)

Have any thoughts? Comments? Please feel free to leave them. Of, and be a dear, and follow Wheaton’s Law (aka Don’t be a dick.). Spoilers for future books are not wanted.

To Tell a Tale

I’ve done quite a bit of reading over the past few weeks. One of the books I read had an interesting dynamic with the Point of View (POV) in each chapter. (This isn’t a discussion on using the first, second or third person, but rather multiple POVS regardles of voice.) It gave me a moment to pause and think over how POV can be used to effect the reader’s role in how a story unfolds. It can be quite successful, but it can also add hinderances to the overall story.

(Now, I won’t be discussing George R. R. Martin here. He, in my opinion, is the undoubted master at weaving POV chapters. If you’ve read any of the Song of Fire and Ice, you will have noticed that every chapter is told from a different POV, and it slowly weaves a fantastic tale of the land of Westeros.)

The first thing that stood out to me after I finished one of the books was that the two main characters had developed in a clear way that I understood both. This was because the author alternated POVs for each character, giving us the insight into both minds as the events unfold. There is an intimacy that is enabled by this stylistic choice; however, it is that same level of intimacy that hindered the story for me as well.

Toward the end of the book, there is a critical scene that plays out and one character is unsure of the motives of the other. The chapter should be frought with terror. Yet, I found myself not feeling the level of terror that should be conveyed because I knew the other character so well from all the other chapters. It’s partly a great testament to the author’s writing that I never doubted the other character despite it not being from their POV. It’s part of the double-edged sword of writing multiple POVs in a story. An author can quickly lose the mystery and intrigue of not knowing what is going on inside the mind’s of the other people in the scene.

Another way the POVs can negatively affect the story is that there can be too much repetition in showing the same scene from the two characters. As a reader, you’ve already read that dialogue once, and seen most of the action. Getting the insight into each character’s mind isn’t always necessary. It can make the story become sluggish and stall at times because there isn’t enough new information to really jump off the page. However, there are times that a critical scene playing out from the varying POVs can really help the reader a larger picture. As a writer, you have to decide what is the best course of action for your own story. Again, it’s that double-edged sword.

Finally, the biggest thing if you use multiple POVs is that you clearly identify the changing of POVs. In a third person story, it should be glaring obvious when the narration changes from Jill to Jack, but if you write in the first person, to give the reader a chance to identify more directly with the character, there has to be a clear indication. If I were to read a chapter in the first person,and the main character is clearly identified and is developing a clear voice, and I move to a second chapter which continues using the first person with no indicator of a switch of who is telling the story, it becomes confusing. After all, Jill and Jack would have two distinct voices, but in the first person, it can be harder to immediately identify the difference especially if it’s when you are first meeting these two characters. It could easily be solved by dictating the character name under the chapter number, or simply devising a legend for symbols corresponding to each character. As a reader, you don’t want to be halfway through a chapter thinking it’s one character, only to learn that you had it all wrong, especially at the start of a story. Confused readers may decide to put down the book and not return, so we want them to feel that they aren’t missing a step.

I’ve written stories from single POVs to multiple POVs. Every story is different, and sometimes you don’t know what character needs to step forward to guide the narrative at every turn until you try it from a different POV. At least, that has been my experience.

Those are just a few thoughts to keep in mind when writing regarding POVs. Not everyone may agree with my opinions, but hey, we don’t all have to agree on everything. Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Please leave them below. (Also as part of my New Years resolution to keep at this better, I shall be discussing in my next post about some thoughts that have struck me as I have read The Dresden Files for the first time.)

Happy New Year!

Okay, so I’m late. Again.

I really meant to get back to this sooner, but I had interviews, and family things, and none of that really matters. I need to do better, and that’s one of the things I am going to do my best to do this year.

So, over the past few weeks, I’ve finished my first editorial pass on my novel, and I just recently finished my second draft. It’s all very exciting, and I feel all the pieces slowly fitting together in a way that just excites me. I know I have a lot more work ahead of me, but I feel reasonably assured that I could publish sometime this year. That’s the goal, and funny enough, my New Year’s Resolution.

I’m saddened by the fact that all my favorite TV shows are mostly on hiatus until after the Olympics. The two “cliffhangers” that have me antsy the most are actually Once Upon a Time and Grey’s Anatomy (my favorite guilty pleasure show). I’m eager to see what the creative minds behind Once Upon a Time will 129300_8231have done with The Enchanted Forest, more than just bring the Wicked Witch there. Are they going to tie in Ginnifer Goodwin’s pregnancy? Are the Ogres still a problem, as was hinted last season? Is Robert Carlyle truly gone from the cast? (I will say that I think they managed to deftly handle the aging of Henry, for now. It could become problematic again if they don’t keep time moving at a good pace.) Plus, Hook. I always need more Hook on my screen.

Grey’s Anatomy though, I’m dying to find out what happened between Jackson Avery and April Kepner. I wanted to smack Jackson for doing that to her, mind you. Don’t get me wrong. I liked Jackson and April when they first got together, but the last year of their relationship has been a constant, “No, I can’t be with you!” from one or the other. Then they introduced Matt, who is adorable and perfect for April. He truly is. He’s going to be the one hurt most from all of this, which is a shame. A pure, unadulterated shame, because I don’t think he’d hurt April, and I think she does love him. (But the obvious writing is that the wedding won’t happen. She might not choose Jackson, but the wedding won’t happen. Prove me wrong, Grey’s!)

HoJosh-Holloway-Intelligencewever, in the interim, I will have a new show on CBS to ogle, er, watch. Josh Holloway, the devastatingly good-looking actor who portrayed conman Sawyer on Lost, is now playing a Chuck-esque role in Intelligence. Plus, it has Red/Ruby from Once Upon a Time. I shall be tuning in to see if that show is worth more than just its eye candy.

That’s it for today. I have a writing-related thoughtful post to come on Points of Views in a novel. For now though, thoughts, questions, comments, leave them here!